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Event Chat Bots Will Have You At Hello

                           
Event Chat Bots Will Have You At Hello
14 Oct 2016

 

By Michelle Bruno

Mobile apps that help attendees navigate, network, set appointments, and do all of the things that mobile-event apps do are practically growing on trees. They come in all price ranges for all types of events and lots of events use them. But there is a sector of the live-event space that remains underserved by mobile apps. That’s where chat bots come in and one company based in Salt Lake City, Utah is out in front of the pack. Call it Hal or Mable if you want.

Chat bots, like Concierge EventBot developed by Sciens.io, let event participants have conversations with event organizers (via their artificial intelligence powered surrogates) using the event website, Facebook Messenger, or the text-messaging feature of their smartphones. So rather than download, learn, and search for information on a mobile-event app, users can simply start typing. For short events like a half-day conference or a small meeting, mobile apps are overkill, but bots could be perfect.

The Chat Bot Tech Stack

Concierge EventBot aggregates multiple apps, including a natural language processor, chat log, event-schedule organizer, push notification scheduler, customer support software used by event staff to answer requests for assistance, and multiple text message delivery services. This combination of tools gives event attendees some interesting capabilities, such as being able to ask a simple question (where is the ballroom?) and get a quick reply. Event planners can benefit too.

Just Start Typing

Accessing Concierge EventBot is simple. Users can go to the event website’s home page and click on a link to open the chat interface. When there is no WiFi access, attendees can use the text-messaging capabilities of their smartphones to text a greeting like “Hi” to a telephone number. When WiFi is available and users prefer to use a messaging service like Facebook Messenger, they can find the bot in the Messenger search window and type “Hi” to start a conversation.

Friend Your Bot

The natural language libraries used by Sciens.io’s chat bot recognize the many ways that users request information. When an attendee greets the bot with “Hi,” “Hi there,” “Hola,” or “Aloha,” the bot understands how to respond. “Depending on what libraries we plug into it, the bot can have more small talk capabilities,” says Kristi Colleran, Sciens.io co-founder. It can also conduct more formal conversations, assume a personality, and respond to a name given to it by the event organizer. “The bot will joke with attendees and they find that kind of whimsical and unexpected, because they’re not quite sure what it’s going to say to them,” she adds.

Bots For Help

Event planners can use bots to respond immediately to “the room is too hot” and “we need more Diet Coke” types of emergencies that every planner runs into. Concierge EventBot logs every interaction from every user providing planners with a text history of all the chat. If the bot doesn’t have the answer, planners can join the conversation and provide one. It also tracks the “I don’t know” responses from the bot so organizers can add a response to the chat bot library and benefit users the next time the question is asked.  

More Than Text

Concierge EventBot can deliver any type of information to a user that the interface allows. In addition to push notifications—pre-planned and ad hoc messages—the bot can send links to other apps like Google maps (driving instructions) or Open Table (restaurant reservations). It can provide images of floor plans, offer access to the meeting agenda, and deliver evaluations and surveys. The first time the bot responds to a user, it gives them a menu of what it can help with.

Bot Afterglow

Chat bots can be useful throughout the event cycle. “The bot can live on your website so that when attendees register, they can talk to it and ask it questions and become connected with it from the very beginning,” Colleran explains. After the event, the bot can live on with a new library of intelligence or serve as a gateway for event-only content. “The intent is for the bot to be there for the whole experience as a kind of concierge for the event,” she adds.  

Get A Bot

Concierge EventBot is hot off the press. Colleran admits that its success depends on how well it can adapt to the event industry and to specific events. But that’s the beauty of artificial intelligence. Adaptation is what it does best. To that end Sciens.io is looking for event organizers interested in its Early Access program. “While we have a really good idea of what the must-have features of event bots are, working with another set of event planners and events will help us to get them right,” Colleran says.

While native mobile event apps dominate now, it’s possible that chat bots could compete with them in other scenarios besides small or short-term events. Some planners may simply love the simplicity of a bot. The fact that text messaging is the most widely used smartphone feature gives bots a leg up on event apps from an adoption perspective. Plus, as artificial intelligence improves, the search capabilities of bots (content, humans, matches) could place them ahead of apps on some counts. Plus, when was the last time your mobile-event app told you where to park your car?