Betamax Generation: Exploring the Resistance to Voice-Driven Technology

Voice-activated search is set to explode, with companies like Neural Voice allowing users to talk to the knowledge of the Internet in a conversational way.

The business has created a wide range of AI characters to demonstrate its capabilities, ranging from lawyers to travel agents who advise on the best holiday destinations.

For example, travel companies can email AI Emily, a virtual travel agent, to previous bookers to find out where they want to go on their “Next Holiday.” Customers then have a conversation with AI Emily about their holiday needs. To achieve this, the system transcribes what they say into words and injects a question into a “Large Language Model” (LLM) to receive a response that turns back into human-sounding speech, all within 0.84 seconds.

Hence, AI Emily’s responses are as fast as a normal human’s but with unlimited knowledge about the world’s top holiday destinations. Emily can guide customers through a choice of destination, right down to individual hotels, while giving customers a full review of all nearby restaurants and bars.

Once Emily has done her job, the customers are emailed back a summarised transcript of their call. The customer’s requirements are also injected into the holiday company’s “Customer Response Marketing” (CRM) system to ensure all future advertising messages are based on their “Next Holiday” requirement and not random holiday offers aimed at getting them to visit the company’s website.

However, although this technology is ideal for most generations, it is likely to be rejected out of hand by the “Betamax” generation of 18–34-year-olds who hate voice interaction. Research shows that 70% will not even pick up the phone when their parents call. Even when they do listen to the message, they prefer to reply by text.

This generation was brought up in a communication world dominated by shorthand text and WhatsApp messaging. They prefer to search by typing into Google and regard parents using voice-activated search with disdain.

I have renamed this “Gen Z” age group the  “Betamax Generation” because, like the video format that battled for supremacy in the mid-80s with the alternative VHS format, the writing is already on the wall for the end of their toys.

Children who cannot yet read and write can use Voice activation to control TVs, open doors, and turn on lights, so there is no way they will revert to typing to search the Internet.

Similarly, the over 35’s brought up in phone conversations have no issue talking to a phone to drive a search query and will be the early adopters of the new Voice-based platforms.

This leaves the “Betamax Generation” out in the cold, with technology rapidly evolving to make their text-based environments redundant.

Interestingly, all business SEO strategies must evolve to allow for the much longer and more complex search terms used by AI search engines.

AI Engines like have already gathered 10 million plus users. They are likely to rapidly eat into Google’s 95% dominance of internet search as its results summarise everything you need to know whilst providing links to the originating articles so that users can validate their conclusions.

The future of search is voice-activated and AI-delivered. You must have the lights off if you’re not reading that writing on the wall.

Will Ryanair’s OTA price parity force Easyjet to follow?

As predicted, Ryanair has now made stage 2 of its API integrations for OTAs available. Instead of presenting a higher “Bundled” price, these integrations allow OTAs to display the lead “Basic” Ryanair price and charge upgrades for extras such as seat selection, speedy boarding, and hold luggage.

This instantly makes Ryanair prices via OTA’s appear cheaper, as they are now on a like-for-like basis with Easyjet and, increasing their market share with a minimal impact on revenue, as most customers will continue to choose these upgrades when offered.

Interestingly, on the Ryanair site, these options are bundled so that if you want speedy boarding, you must also select a seat; within OTAs, these are broken down as separate charges.

However, as usual, the highly commercial Ryanair has priced “hold luggage plus seat” at the same price via OTAs but offers a lower price on its site for combining the popular “Speeding Boarding” options with seat selection. This option is required if you’re on a short break and want to carry 10kg of hand luggage, which is why most Speedy boarding queues are longer than standard boarding.

I am sure that other Ryanair OTA partners, like On the Beach and Tui, will quickly follow suit in upgrading to this new API connection as soon as their technology backlog allows.

Ryanair’s offering OTAs price parity will pressure low-cost carrier competitors to follow suit. For example, Easyjet’s £6.00 per passenger per flight sector equates to £26.50 for the average 2.2-passenger booking, with yielding their charge based on route demand and partner volume.

However, the true cost of providing API connectivity is in pence rather than pounds. These fees were introduced to compensate for lost ancillary revenue and provide in-house tour operations a price advantage. However, they look increasingly unsustainable in a market with excess flight capacity.

Overall flight capacity from the UK is forecast to remain at 98% of 2019 levels in 2024, primarily due to weaker demand for business travel post-COVID-19’s mass adoption of video conferencing as a feasible alternative to face-to-face meetings and a reduction in demand for city breaks.

Low-cost carriers have instead shifted large amounts of capacity onto leisure routes. Exactly how much capacity has been added is hard to estimate, but with bonded ATOL carryings having increased by 5.32M or 20% since 2019 to 31.6m in 2024, the overall increase will likely be more than 10m seats.

This extra capacity is already dragging down average load factors and forcing low-cost carriers to either drop flight prices or offer substantial discounts off package holidays where they can dump excess seats opaquely.

So, it looks like a tough summer ahead for low-cost carriers but a bumper year for OTAs and in-house low-cost tour operators. I have always impolitely described OTAs as “parasites living off the misery of others” with distressed outbound seats from one airline combinable with other airlines’ seats, often providing market-leading flight prices.

The OTA’s ongoing threat, however, is that the airlines use their tour operations as the route to dispose of excess seats, giving them a significant price advantage and driving massive growth.

That is why, in my opinion, the latest market is still likely to be painted “Orange”, with Easyjet Holidays growing dramatically as it provides an alternative seat filler for its parent airline.