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Chatbots at Events – Capabilities and Benefits

Until the mid-1960s, software that could understand human input and respond intelligently was the domain of science fiction. The creation of two chatbots, ELIZA and PARRY, did little to change that; while cleverly built, they were incapable of providing context to input.

In just the last five years, though, both sides of the chatbot market have transformed. On one side, app fatigue and a proliferation of messaging apps have driven interest in the technology up five-fold; on the other, the technology has rapidly become indistinguishable from human interaction.

The chatbots are coming

In its simplest definition, a chatbot is a program that communicates with users via text or audio. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled Messenger Platform, which enables developers to build chatbots specifically for Facebook Messenger, he delineated the four principles that guided its development.

These principles created a clear framework for how most chatbots function today:

  • They should enable users to message a business just like they would message a friend.
  • They should provide users with a quick or immediate response.
  • They should allow users to do something else while they were using it.
  • They should not require users to install a new app.

Large corporations such as Starbucks, Spotify and Whole Foods were among the first to see the potential for using such functional technology to delight their customers. Now, a combination of lower costs, improved artificial intelligence and the modularization of the technology has made chatbot creation accessible to smaller corporations.

This technology is still relatively new and the market is not yet saturated; now is really the perfect time to move fast and gain a competitive advantage. If integrated correctly, pioneering companies have a chance to see a material reduction in overhead and more efficiently and effectively satisfy customer demands.

Chatbots in the live event space

Chatbot technology was practically tailor-made for the events industry. Chatbots offer the opportunity to add value to the attendee experience without also adding complexity or causing frustration. Chatbots such as Sava perform well in the event space because they integrate with apps most users already have downloaded on their device (such as Kik, Slack or Facebook Messenger), and because they solve the need for instant gratification that attendees have come to expect.

They offer many benefits to event organizers, as well. They can be personalized to reinforce the tone, voice and brand of an event, making it more memorable in the minds of attendees. Their use not only lowers the cost and overhead associated with customer service by about 25 percent, but also allows organizers to shift their time and attention away from being an information conduit for attendees and towards creating a better experience for them.

Common chatbot capabilities

Chatbots are capable of handling tasks from the moment an event is announced until far after it is over. Here are seven potential uses for chatbots at an event:

  1. Booking and inquiries. A chatbot in Facebook messenger can allow Facebook users to book tickets to an event and can even prompt them when discounts become available.
  2. Website help. The same type of chatbot can be used in a “help agent” form on a website, guiding users to where they need to go and answering questions they have along the way.
  3. Sponsorship add-on. A chatbot booth that attendees can interact with can be offered to potential sponsors as a customization option.
  4. Feedback and reviews. After the event is over, the same chatbot that led the attendee through event booking can check in with them to see how they liked it and what could have been done better, generating data for analysis.
  5. Sentiment analysis. The language used by chatbot users can be analyzed on the fly, giving event organizers insight into the parts of the event that are most likely to evoke positive or negative emotions; sources of frustration can be eliminated before it can lead to anger.
  6. Live polls. Event speakers can administer live polls through the event app in order to integrate instant crowd feedback into their presentation.
  7. Frequently asked questions. One of the easiest integrations for chatbots, and one that also provides the most value to users, is simply to answer questions. Chatbots can even preempt questions attendees have by delivering push notifications for conference-specific details, such as agendas, as they become relevant.


With so much potential, it might seem like the technology would be expensive to develop and implement. However, the commodification of chatbots, along with the proliferation of developer platforms, means that they can be assembled from pre-built parts, then used on every platform. Hop on this emerging technology and impress your users at your next conference.