Virtual City Ambassador For Chicago
A case study on a travel chatbot for Choose Chicago (Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau)
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.
“We identified many groups that worked on technology and new solutions, and our team moved forward with four of them. Out of those four, BotsCrew was chosen as the leading company for chatbot solutions. We also talked to a couple of their prior clients, and the team was heavily recommended. In the end, our team and the consultant we worked with identified BotsCrew to be the most agile team.”
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?”
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.
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
Restaurant nearby and in neighborhoods search
Restaurants search by type of cuisine
Review the most recent blog posts from the "Chicago Like a Local" blog
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.
The Bean was built on the BotsCrew Platform with several integrations:
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.
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.
We've seen a dramatic increase in engagement after the chatbot’s first month. Other KPIs are performing at a high rate. In fact, end users rate the chatbot favorably, and we’re hovering around 4 stars out of 5.
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.
Their attention to detail and constant follow-ups differentiate them from other providers. Their overall responsiveness is also impressive. There’s an eight-hour time difference between our teams, but they make sure that we can have meetings on time. Simply put, their flexibility and dedication to the project are great; we’ve been extremely pleased working with them.
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!