26th February 2019
Following the successful introduction last year of the ability for Virgin Trains customers to book tickets via Alexa, customers who require travel assistance are now also able to make this request by using some simple voice commands on the platform. The new development in collaboration with Amazon means that Virgin Trains customers can now book JourneyCare via Alexa-enabled devices, including the Amazon Echo.
Following extensive trials, the new JourneyCare feature is now available for anyone requiring assisted travel (for example those with visual impairment or mobility issues). In the past, customers were required to complete a form online or call the helpline after booking in order to receive the JourneyCare service.
The new technology means customers can book assisted travel immediately after purchasing tickets using simple voice commands and the process takes just two minutes, halving the time needed to complete an online form or call the helpline.
Chris Tomson took part in the initial testing of the Alexa skill. He has Osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bones) and uses a wheelchair on a daily basis.
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.”
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 disabled people 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 freed up to help those who need more help or time in booking their journey.”
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.”
Author: Darren Porter
Image: Virgin Trains