Customers of Virgin Trains can book travel assistance with Amazon Alexa
This new service simplifies the process of booking travel assistance, whilst providing staff with more time to aid passengers with reduced mobility.
Virgin Trains’ new development in collaboration with Amazon has resulted in customers being able to book JourneyCare via Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo.
Following trials, the new JourneyCare feature is now live for anyone requiring assisted travel (for example those with visual impairments or mobility issues). Previously, this had to be booked via an online form or through the helpline.
The new technology means customers can book assisted travel immediately after purchasing tickets using simple voice commands.
Chris Tomson, who uses a wheelchair on a daily basis, took part in the initial testing of the Alexa skill. He said: “Using JourneyCare on the Virgin Trains skill for Alexa is a fantastic asset. It does a great job of combining the two processes, making the whole experience much easier. It also comes in handy if I have any pain in my arms and I am unable to use a computer, phone or tablet to book my journey.”
On average the new service takes just two minutes, halving the time needed to complete an online form or call the helpline.
Stephen Brookes, Rail Sector Champion for the Minister for Disabled People, said: “I welcome the new initiative by Virgin Trains, which will give disabled people a better booking experience.
“By utilising Alexa in this way, Virgin Trains recognises the importance of passengers with reduced mobility as being a key part of rail industry business, because those who are comfortable with and can access technology will find the system quick and efficient.
“But it doesn’t mean that those who cannot access or use new technology will miss out, as the staff involved in phone booking will be more available to assist those who need more help or time in booking their journey.”
In September 2018, Virgin Trains partnered with Vodafone and OpenMarket, becoming the first company in the world to deploy the latest RCS-based ‘Chat’ service as a customer communications channel on a commercial basis.
Toby Radcliffe, Customer Proposition Director at Virgin Trains, said: “We are always looking at ways to improve the travelling experience for customers with disabilities and we are really pleased to be introducing this new update to our existing Alexa skill for customers needing to book extra assistance on their journey with us. We want to ensure train travel is accessible to as many people as possible and this is a further innovation in that direction.”