It seems like every brand uses a chatbot these days. They pop up whenever you visit their website or Facebook page. But why are chatbots so popular? Do they have a role in the events industry?
You see, people use messaging apps more than any other channel. Messaging has become a ubiquitous form of communication, even more so than social media or email.
Naturally, businesses of all kinds (including events) want to get into this channel, but this kind of direct messaging is tough to scale. Imagine trying to have a one-on-one conversation with every guest and potential guest. You just don’t have the resources for that.
That’s where intelligent chatbots come in. With the help of artificial intelligence (which isn’t science fiction anymore), you can implement a smart, highly scalable “personality” to have individual conversations with any of your participants.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are tools designed to mimic human conversation. People can interact with them to collect or deliver information. Some chatbots can only reply with pre-programmed responses, but AI chatbots use natural language processing to learn and adapt based on their interactions with people.With the help of AI, you can implement a smart, highly scalable “personality” to engage with your participants. Click To Tweet
From the user’s perspective, a chatbot is just a messaging app with a machine on the other end. Users interact with the bot like they would a person. They know they aren’t talking to a live human, but the format is often more intuitive than an FAQ or help forum. It also responds directly to the user’s demand so they get their answers right away.
AI chatbots can learn about people within the context of a single conversation. A chatbot may learn, for example, that a person who says “coach” also means “bus.” They also accumulate knowledge over time from all of their conversations to slowly grow smarter.
Benefits of Chatbots for Events
How do chatbots help you plan and run events?
Chatbots are automated ways to serve your guests and potential guests. They can answer questions, provide information, and upsell products and services. They are powerful tools to scale your engagement with your guests.
The best part about chatbots is their availability. They can interact with an unlimited number of guests at any time. They don’t take breaks and can operate through any medium – Facebook, your website, SMS, and even other apps. They don’t get tired and they never deliver anything less than the level of service you program them to give.
As you can imagine, this is far more cost-effective than hiring people to manage those engagements manually. What would it cost to keep a person on staff to answer questions in real-time at 2:30 in the morning?
You can even use AI chatbots to take control of entire functions, like registering guests, reserving seats, choosing food selections, or selling tickets.
Plus, with a chatbot on your team, you don’t have to waste your team’s time answering the same basic questions over and over. How many times should you have to provide an answer to “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” Let a machine do that.
This is especially powerful during events when guests need answers to their questions right away, but you are busy tending to other matters. They can hop on your website and ask their questions to the chatbot who will respond immediately with the information they need.
Furthermore, chatbots are powerful tools to gather information. They poll your participants, ask questions, and – through a complex machine learning process – use sentiment analysis to gauge the emotions of your guests.
Chatbots in Action
Here are just a few examples of how chatbots have served some of the biggest events in the world:
- When IMEX Frankfurt 2017 employed Frank the chatbot, he managed 3,600 messages from 780 users and helped them identify problems with their website’s FAQ.
- BizBash Florida used a chatbot named Betty to process 1,300 messages from 300 attendees. She produced a 57.9% engagement rate during the one-day event and handled customer service questions when the BizBash website went down.
- SXSW 2017 used a chatbot named Abby who handled 56,000 questions from 16,000 users. She could access the entire event database.
Chatbots are powerful tools, but they come with some drawbacks. You’ll have to plan for and overcome these obstacles if you implement your own AI chatbot.
Chatbots are only as good as the programming that powers them. It will never be as intuitive as a real person (at least for the time being) and they struggle to think abstractly. If the chatbot you use wasn’t designed well, it could create a frustrating experience for attendees.
For example, if your chatbot can’t make the connection that “group ticket discount” also means “multiple ticket discount,” a potential attendee might abandon your site (and possibly your event) in frustration.
Using a chatbot is generally less efficient than having a conversation with a real person. Typing is slower than talking as it is, but chatbots are also more likely to misunderstand a person’s question, which forces the person to rephrase.
It also takes a lot of time to set up a chatbot. You have to give it some information to get started. Depending on the size of your event, it may take more time to implement your chatbot than the chatbot would save you.
Some people just prefer to speak with humans. They want someone who can anticipate their needs and understand innuendo and sarcasm. They will ignore your chatbot and send you an email or call you on the phone.
How to Get an AI Chatbot
Like all software applications, there are two ways to get your own chatbot: Build one or buy one.
Building a chatbot is exceedingly complex. You’ll need a team of talented developers who understand programming and a branch of artificial intelligence called natural language processing. This is the discipline that studies the interaction between computers and humans and gives chatbots the ability to understand questions, even if they aren’t hard-coded into its response pattern.
Naturally, this approach is expensive. Developers aren’t cheap. There is a significant one-time cost as well as regular maintenance fees. That said, you’ll end up with a chatbot that’s customized for your specific needs, which makes this a good approach if you plan to use your chatbot for multiple large events.
The other way to get a chatbot is to use someone else’s platform. Motion.ai, for example, is an app where you can visually build, train, and deploy your own chatbot. It works on Facebook Messenger, Slack, and your own website.
Here are a few more AI chatbot builders to check out:
- Converse AI
These options are useful if you don’t understand code, though they will require a few hours study and trial-and-error to put together your chatbot. Whichever service you use will have instructions to set up your chatbot.
The Bottom Line
AI chatbots are useful tools to engage with your guests and potential guests. They create one-on-one interactions with your participants at scale to nurture relationships. With artificial intelligence, your chatbots can perform advanced functions and learn better ways to serve your guests over time.