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Virgin Trains first to begin selling tickets via Amazon Alexa

Tyrone Stewart

Amazon Echo Alexa Virgin TrainsVirgin Trains has become the first travel operator in the world to let customers book their tickets using just their voice through Amazon Alexa.

The Virgin Trains Alexa skill launched in November last year, giving customers the ability to enquire about rail information via Alexa. The next step in that collaboration enables customers to book ‘advance single’ tickets through any Alexa-enabled Amazon device with payment completed through Amazon Pay.

“We’re thrilled to work with Virgin Trains to offer customers a completely new way to buy train tickets,” said Giulio Montemagno, director of Amazon Pay EU. “With Alexa and Amazon Pay, Virgin Trains customers can now search, select and buy train tickets entirely through voice. This is a first-of-a-kind service that will make it easier than ever to find and book the ticket you want, even when you’re busy doing something else - all you need to do is ask Alexa.”

To celebrate the launch of the feature, Virgin Trains’ West Coast service are offering free first-class upgrades to any passengers named Alexa travelling on their routes between 3 May and 15 June.

“Virgin Trains has become the latest in a long line of companies closely working with Amazon to sell its products through the company’s voice-controlled Alexa device. By allowing customers to directly book tickets using just their voice, it points to one of the biggest trends currently in ecommerce; brands using Zero UI voice-controlled services to create a seamless customer experience,” said Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Salmon.

“While Heathrow Airport and Jamie Oliver utilise Alexa for checking departure times and browsing recipes respectively, Virgin Trains has now taken this one step further by allowing customers to directly purchase a product without a screen. And brands and retailers should take note. The more popular Amazon’s Echo and other voice-activated devices become, the more consumers will actually want to make purchases using these devices. This, coupled with the fact that consumers are increasingly craving convenience over the brand they purchase, points to a growing necessity for a bigger choice of purchasing options.

“While this ‘new’ form of purchasing doesn’t quite spell the end of the screen, it’s important brands and retailers start thinking innovatively about how they can incorporate this latest purchasing phenomenon into their ecommerce strategy. For brands that want to future-proof, Alexa and similar voice-controlled devices are essential to matching that consumer hunger for new technology and convenience.”