If you have ever attended a business conference or a music festival you know for sure. The amount of information about the different sessions and locations can be overwhelming. That is where conference chatbots come into play and can assist the participant before, during and after the event. If you’re new to chatbots, you may want to read my intro article.

As chatbots are fairly new to the wide public it is still a bit of a question, where will be the best use of them. Of course, we can already see big wins in brands customer services, eCommerce stores or at medical services where the topic is more sensitive.

But as far as I know there is not a sector that would be dominating. I think event chatbots have the potential for a great ranking. They dont necessarily need complex technology in order to be useful for both the users and the organizers. There is agreat saying by Kip. It can easily be true for conference chatbots:

Build something that *only* bots can do. That websites and appscant

Yesterday I finished my first chatbot review video. I wanted to write an article for it, so its not just a Youtube video embed. But while trying to collect the reasons for my first review choice I accidentally wrote an entirely different article.

So now you can have both: my video review of the SXSW chatbot, Abby and also my general reasoning for theevent – especially conference chatbots.

My SXSW chatbot review

Here are my top 13 reasons why chatbots are a must for events. Even though the SXSW chatbot doesn’t have all these functions.

Update: 04/24/2017
You can see how fast the environment is changing, I need to update in the same month… Anyways, another great idea that a chatbot called sparkybot is already doing is collecting prospects to speak at the event. You can learn about sparkybot and what it can do for your conference during my interview with Thomas Schulz.

Before the event

1) Ticket Purchases

You can also think of your chatbot as a landing page or an assistant to it. Before people purchase, they most likely need information about the speakers, sessions, etc. However, if you help them discover your chatbot before they purchase, you can have more information about what they want. Quasi you can sell better. Answer their questions, adjust your pitch, and remind them of any price increment.

paying with a chatbot

2) Need advice on your event? Ask before!

Before the event, there are decisions to be made. It may be location, price, speakers/bands, etc. With a chatbot, you can have people easily vote for speakers or sessions. That could be a great way to make a little buzz and reach an extra audience.

With a chatbot, you can have people easily vote for speakers or sessions. That could be a great way to make a little buzz and reach an extra audience.

You can also do a favor to your speakers and ask questions in advanced for them. They want to help and give their best they can. But often they dont know your audience that well. Why not help them out with a couple of questions so they can prepare their speech in the right direction.

Users can also make suggestions on their own. Not sure about something? Just ask away. I would suggest segmenting the audience here and only turn to the hardcore fans. Not everyone has the time to deal with your questions. But some have and will be willing to help.

3) No download needed, still app-like functions

No one wants to download an application for a 1-3 day event, even not for a 7-day event. Personally, I dont want to download and install any app I know I wont use at least once a week. Chatbots have the advantage of providing functions like matching people, showing directions like apps, but dont need additional download. They are right in your Messenger or any other preferred platform of yours.

sxsw chatbot starting picture

 

During the event

4) No need for complex AI in order to be useful.

They can be very simple. Artificial Intelligence and free input understanding is the #1 thing we are most excited about when hearing about chatbots. But sometimes, people dont know how to use it. Also, chatbots often dont understand free input sufficiently well enough yet. Actually, the Messengers newest release in March is an adjustment to that issue.

The options given by sxsw chatbot.

At events, the information is mostly general, and there isnt much need for users input or context. Compare that to a health care bot, where the bot needs to understand each and every situation separately. Here is a simple rule-based bot that can smoothly guide the user to the requested information.

5) Sessions planning and reminders

Imagine you go through the speeches a couple of days before the conference in order to have a rough plan of what to attend, but it is a little bit overwhelming. There can be several locations. There are sessions you want to go to, no matter what. There are ones that you are interested in, but not entirely sure yet. How about a chatbot – your event assistant – to help you with all this? To give more information about the speaker if you want, to remind you of the important ones, etc.

6) Conference chatbots are great information hubs

One of the arguments against simple chatbots is that, in many cases, they dont provide extra value compared to websites. People are just clicking and getting information, so why not just go straight to the website?

Well, there are other advantages besides already being on the favorite platform and not having to memorize the event’s web page.

sxsw chatbot ansers to wifi code question

Simple questions like whats next? Who is speaking? Wi-Fi code? Can be very powerful.

Why would the user have to go to the website and search for the day and time? In worse cases, scroll a whole page with mobile (no you dont want that). You can also spare most of the many brochures that will be looked at maybe a couple of times, lost somewhere in the caf矇 and thrown away after the sessions anyways.

7) Broadcasting

That is huge. Is there any information that must be pushed out? Lets say there is a significant change in the program; there are 3 different rooms, a marketplace, a caf矇, and the toilets. How do you announce that information? Keep saying it until everyone goes to that location? Not sure if thats the best.

How about things that are only relevant to a segment of people. Many conferences have different pricing tears, and not all information is relevant to everyone. Maybe some people opted in for something like lunch or a special session? You can reach them without bothering the others.

8) Group chats, Connecting people

One of the biggest reasons why people go to conferences, summits, or festivals is to connect with other like-minded people. Some of the applications offer that opportunity in the good old Tinder-like style. Just swipe the person you want to talk to, based on interest, occupation, or whatever you want to base that connection on. That way, people can connect easily with each other. The advantage of that is that it is not by accident. When I go to a conference, I plan to meet people. But you meet the people randomly where you sit or stand next to waiting for your coffee.

swipe the right person in a chatbot

How about the many people you dont know yet and dont meet accidentally. There is a great chance that there was a ‘better match’ out there, but you were unable to meet each other. A chatbot could help you match according to preferences. That way, you both can have a bigger win-win situation. You still meet him/her in person and all that jazz, but its way more targeted than the chit-chat in the line waiting for your chance to talk to the speaker.

9) In session actions

How many times did you listen to a speech and the speaker asked the audience a question? You put up your hands, tried to look around, but still no idea what the answer was. The presenter says something which, for sure, proves his/her point. But everyone has a powerful gadget mostly in 30cm away from them. Why not use it for other questions that cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. And all this accurately and can be used later on as a reference.

Lets compare these 2 different statements:

A) I asked the audience, and only a few said they had built chatbots before.

Vs.

B) Out of the 100 persons in the room, only 12 voted for yes, when I asked if they have built a chatbot before.

Which is more reliable and usable later on?

hands up in the air on a conference.

How about giving information like numbers or free input? You know where I am getting at, right?

10) Communication with the organizers – Support

If the chatbot is built well, there is not much support needed. But there are always things coming up that need a human assistance. Ever found or lost something somewhere public? The chatbot could help give you information where to go, and with the aid of human assistance, it could also notify you when the lost object was found. No need to check in every 2 hours and ask for it.

Many other personal things can come up that you may require you to contact the organizers. And the best thing is; they know the context. No need to start from scratch and search for your order number if you have an issue with your ticket. They have all the information youve given to them. No need for extra checking, post in notes, or leaving contact information again. It can all be accessed and used instantly.

11) Contests, games and other fun stuff

Raffles can be taken over by chatbots

People love games. Why not give them an opportunity to do something fun next to the serious conference topics. For example, your sponsors provide certain activities that are needed to take part. When they do that, they can enter into a competition. But it could be a simple buy-a-raffle thing as well. They could also share great pictures about the event on social media and send the screenshots in the chatbot. Your imagination is the only limit here.

After theevent

12) Follow-ups with the chatbot

As an organizer, you may want to ask for feedback or testimonials after the event, but your emails get ignored most of the time. Well, in Messenger, even if you dont get a lengthy answer, you will most likely receive helpful feedback in a survey form. Just a couple of clicks about the different segments of the conference or festival. You can do them right after each session. Wouldnt it be cool to have winners that way?

13) Lead collection for the speakers and sponsors

In many instances, the speakers or sponsoring brands would like to reach you after the conference. They offer valuable gifts for that. Why not make things easier for them? Lets say after voting, you just click another button to receive that free whatever. Sounds a bit easier than asking them to go to your website, right? Many things are going on in these events, and people forget about your special bonus.

Conclusion

Depending on your budget and willingness to allocate resources, these functions are all possible as of now. The barrier to making a great conference chatbotuseful for your participants is likely to be lower day by day. Would you like us to build one for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out. You’ll find a way to contact me under the about page.

Even if you use a simple chatbot only to promote your event it can mean a big difference to your button line. See myHow to auto reply to Facebook post comments inside Messengerpost for further ideas.

These are my top 13 reasons why conferences must have chatbots. Did I leave out any? Do you agree or disagree with some of them? Did you see a cool conference or festival chatbot? Let me know in the comments below.