Although most industries are embracing the chatbot, they’re still underused in some sectors. In the world of events and trade shows, for instance, they’re not truly taken advantage of. Want to get ahead of the competitions and drive attendee engagement, before, during, and after events? Learn more about chatbots.
What Is a Chatbot?
A bot is a software program designed to perform an automatic task. For a chatbot, that means mimicking written or spoken conversation. The software uses artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret what users say. Then it chooses an appropriate response based on the context of the query.
There are lots of types of chatbots. On a website or in an app, chatbots are used to enhance the visitor experience. You’ve probably seen a chat box pop up on service websites you’ve visited. That’s a chatbox. It’s designed to guide website visitors to something specific they’re looking for or help them solve a problem. If the chatbot can’t provide the help the visitor needs, it can direct them to a customer hotline.
As standalone entities, chatbot systems are increasingly sophisticated, doing more than just answering questions. Digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Google Home, are examples of chatbots with large stores of information and multiple functions.
How Do They Do What They Do?
Chatbots are programmed to mimic natural language through a process called deep learning. This is a kind of machine learning, which in turn is a kind of AI. AI involves teaching machines to perform tasks that previously only humans could do. Machine learning takes the process a step further. With the right data, the software can teach itself how to perform a task.
Deep learning goes even further by using neural networks. These are computer systems with powerful algorithms that are modelled to resemble the human brain. Neural networks are designed to detect patterns to classify the data they’re given. When a neural network is trained to perform as a chat robot, it’s trained via deep learning to detect and classify the patterns of natural human speech and simulate human conversation.
What Are Chatbots Good For?
No two events are the same but show organizers do tend to come up against the same types of challenges. Many of those challenges are problems chatbots can help solve. Before, during, and even after the event, a chat robot can add plenty of value to the services you provide.
Before the Show
Adding a chatbot to your event website can enhance the preshow experience for both you and the people who visit the site:
- Drive attendee engagement – As a show manager, you typically communicate with attendees via email—strictly a one-way conversation. Using a chatbot gives you the chance to turn it into more of a dialogue. Add a chatbot to your website and app, and attendees can actively participate in the conversation. This makes it naturally more engaging and builds anticipation.
- Improve efficiency – One of the biggest advantages of chatbots is that they can take on routine tasks and free up time. For instance, a website chatbot can answer basic attendee queries and help visitors find the information they’re looking for. Chatbots allow you and your team to focus on other things.
During the Show
At the show, you have a couple of options for providing a chatbot. One option is to do it by stationing one or more digital assistants around the venue. Make sure they’re placed in areas that are relatively quiet and easily accessible, to make them easy for attendees to use. The second option is to add a chatbot to your event app.
- Add sponsorship opportunities for increased revenue – A chatbot can provide some additional exposure opportunities for your sponsors, making sponsorship deals more enticing. For instance, a chatbot can display sponsorship announcements, or the chatbot itself might be sponsored. If you have an event app or digital assistant, that provides even more opportunities.
- Provide in-app assistance – It’s increasingly common for events to have apps that attendees can use to organize their time at the show. Add a chatbot to your app to make it even more useful and engaging and increase frequency of use. For instance, a chatbot could help users navigate the app and aid them in finding booths and sessions they’re interested in.
- Gather real-time information – Monitoring the chatbot during your event may help detect and solve problems before they cause too much trouble. For instance, if large numbers of people are asking the bot where restrooms are, they might need to be signposted more clearly.
- Generate leads – Grab contact information from chatbot users, and you—and your sponsors—can continue to engage with them after the show is over.
What Must Be in Your Event App?
After the Show
There are many ways to use chatbots before and during a trade show. But what about after it’s all over? You might think there’s not much use for chatbots then, but don’t disconnect them too fast!
- Gather relevant information – Once the show is over, analyzing chatbot data can help you pinpoint opportunities for improvement. One person’s interaction with a chatbot may not be useful, but queries of thousands of users can give you valuable insight into attendee needs. For instance, if lots of website visitors are all asking the same common question, consider adding it to the FAQ.
- Stay in touch – You can continue to send snippets of information about the show, or about future shows, via attendee’s own digital assistants. Forty-six percent of American adults use a digital assistant, and of those, 8% have a standalone device, so you’ll reach plenty of people that way. Send updates to the event app too to cover all your bases.
Chatbots Can Have a Major Impact on Your Event
To your guests, chatbots seem like just another customer service, just another way of getting information. Because they’ve come to expect chatbots in daily life, it only makes sense to add them to your event. And the truth is, a chatbot can be even more useful to you as show manager than to the attendees it serves. It can help human agents make better use of their time, improve your revenue, and provide you with a huge amount of useful data to make future shows even better.