Chatbots, AI, Voice Recognition: Just Hype or Very Relevant for Event Managers?

There is a lot of talk about what effects artificial intelligence, bots and voice recognition have on the events industry. What’s behind all the hype?

The topic of AI and bots isn’t just the current focus topic at the German Marketing Day in Frankfurt in November 2017 – the rapid development of voice activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home or Apple’s Siri shows just how much importance these developments have for marketing, customer relations and communication. 

Already as of June this year, Amazon had already sold an unbelievable 18.8 million Echo devices. The ‘smart speaker’ has only been on the market since June 2015 in the USA and here in Germany since October 2016. 

The Internet of things has now become integral to the industry and is gaining more and more of a foothold in the consumer market. This is the latest point at which the events industry should start thinking about how relevant this topic area is for event management. 

Chatbots for Customer and Visitor Contact

The first pilots were tested at IMEX 2017: visitor surveys about the fair, opening times, schedule etc. were automatically answered via Facebook Messenger chat. The chatbot was aptly called Frank, as the IMEX took place in Frankfurt 🙂

The underlying service was the chat engine by Sciensio, an AI app provider from Salt Lake City / USA. 

The dialogues are currently kept quite simple, as the bot isn’t immensely ‘intelligent’ yet. But you can already see in which direction the development is moving. Here is an example chat with the IMEX bot: 

A chatbot was also used by BizBash for their conference in Fort Lauderdale . Uber lets you organize your complete journey process via Messenger. Several airlines also offer flight booking via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. 

The idea is of course to address visitors where they are. When you think about the fact that messenger services such as WhatsApp (with over 1 billion users worldwide) and Facebook Messenger have virtually replaced text messaging and partially e-mail traffic, it obviously lends itself to implement such channels into your communication strategy. 

Ticket Purchasing via Alexa Skill?

The Internet of things will also strongly influence the way in which we shop. Amazon already offers the possibility via Dash Buttons to order everyday things such as washing powder, dishwasher tabs and similar items at the click of a button. The purchasing process is thereby uncoupled from having to visit a website or use an app. 

So, will we soon be able to buy congress or trade fair tickets via voice command? The first instances already exist. Alexa Skill (this is the name of Amazon’s voice assistant) Fandango informs you about the local cinema schedule and enables you to buy tickets via voice command. 

The Skill EventGuru currently enables you to view current pending concerts in your city – cleverly enough with a short sample of the band who will be performing! Purchasing tickets currently isn’t possible, but this is merely a question of time until this feature is also available. 

Matchmaking with Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence

The matchmaking features of the Converve software are based on algorithms which compare the preferences and wishes of congress and trade fair visitors, as well as with exhibitors and makes suggestions who could meet whom at an event.

By doing so, this no longer leaves event networking up to chance – technology increases the ROI of an event for visitors and exhibitors. 

Bottom Line

The potential for AI, bots and voice recognition for events is enormous. Interesting application examples can already be seen in B2C events such as concerts, cinemas etc. from event recommendations to customer services and ticketing.

Also, B2B event application of such solutions isn’t far behind, in light of the swift spread of smart speakers and enormous use of messenger services.