Virtual City Ambassador For Chicago

A case study on a travel chatbot for Choose Chicago (Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau)

Marie Avandegraund
Marie Avandegraund
May. 18, 2022. Updated Apr. 12, 2024
Choose Chicago The Bean


During the global pandemic, the tourism and hospitality industry was completely devastated. Meanwhile, the COVID restrictions were rapidly changing, going back and forth, closing and reopening cities and countries. 

In 2021 Choose Chicago, the official destination marketing organization for Chicago, realized that they needed to adapt to this hybrid, always-on world. They wanted to bring more visitors to Chicago, prompt travelers to visit and immerse into local cultural experiences rather than staying downtown only, and help them find information about the reopening of Chicago as quickly as possible.  To do so, they studied digital solutions, like chatbots. 


Meet The Bean. Named after the iconic Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park, The Bean lives on the Choose Chicago website and is available 24-7 to help people from near and far to discover the best of Chicago.

The Bean is an AI-chatbot that helps answer visitors’ questions, suggest new places and events, and serves as a virtual ambassador of Chicago. The Bean can understand when you ask it about Chicago neighborhoods, where to eat, attractions, breweries, events, celebrities, and much more... Also, it has conversational elements responding to your most tricky questions like, “Do you like New York?”  

The Bean AI chatbot

Note: This is not a total number of unique phrases. These are phrases that have been trained in the Dialog Flow (NLP engine). Therefore, the chatbot can understand not only these phrases, but also similar ones.  For example, you can type hi, hello, how are you, and a chatbot will understand. You can check The Bean here. 

The Bean at Forbes

How The Bean works


Events and Attractions Search

  • Based on the user's location
  • Based on the categories selected such as: Virtual event; Sports, Recreation; Music, Comedy; Tours, Attractions; Museums, Galleries, Exhibitions; Festivals, Fairs, Special events; Theater & performing arts; All events
The bean chatbot Events and Attractions Search

Restaurant nearby and in neighborhoods search

The Bean chatbot Restaurant nearby and in neighborhoods search

Restaurants search by type of cuisine

The Bean chatbot Restaurants search by type of cuisine

Review the most recent blog posts from the "Chicago Like a Local" blog

"Chicago Like a Local" blog
The bean chatbot features

How did we achieve it

“The Bean” became self-aware through a partnership between BotsCrew, Choose Chicago, Timecraft and the Knight Lab, which is part of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. The school’s students were involved in the design of “The Bean,” specifically its personality.

Let’s us help you stand out from other brands! 

The Bean chatbot development roadmap


The Bean was built on the BotsCrew Platform with several integrations:

The Bean chatbot integrations

Chatbot Personality

When deciding on whom visitors would love to chat with, the team’s choice was the world-famous sculpture “Cloud Gate” by artist Anish Kapoor. "Cloud Gate" has become an iconic attraction in Chicago, popular with both visitors and locals alike. Our common goal was to create a chatbot who is a true Chicagoan. To do so, during the Discovery phase, the dedicated team prepared the audience research, chatbot personality and brand identity/tonality exploration. With the help of a creative copywriter, we created engaging conversational flows with stories and even a few jokes.


In the five months since its launch, 22,434 people have talked to The Bean with a satisfaction rate of 74.7%

Three major KPIs for The Bean are helping people find events, information about tours and attractions search, and restaurant recommendations across the city.

KPI Results

The Bean chatbot results

Apart from that, we created promotional flows in The Bean to encourage people to check out and book cultural events through the Fall and Winter months. We started with the Creative Spirit festival.  

What’s Next?

Currently, we are updating The Bean with custom flows for occasional events and marketing campaigns, like Chicago Theatre Week and Chicago Restaurant Week. In addition, to make The Bean as accessible as possible, we are implementing technology so The Bean can be used with screen readers.

Read the whole review on Clutch here

5 steps to start working with BotsCrew

1) You book a call/ fill out a form;

2) We send you an email to confirm our meeting;

3) On the meeting we discuss: your chatbot idea/question, examples from our previous clients with similar case, possible KPIs, budget and outcomes. You will know if your chatbot idea worth the shot. 

4) After the call, if you want to proceed with BotsCrew, we send you a detailed Proposal with prices, solution description, timelines, KPIs;  

5) If everything sounds good for you, then we start creating your chatbot!