Messe Frankfurt implemented an exciting pilot project with the use of the intelligent personal assistant Alexa at Hypermotion 2017. In this interview, Daniel Emrath, Coordinator of Web Solutions at Messe Frankfurt, explains how the project originated, what Alexa did at Hypermotion and further usage possibilities.
What was the reason to use the intelligent personal assistant Alexa at Hypermotion?
In our department are constantly looking for ways to provide additional added value to our target groups using digital solutions. In this case, Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa was to help orient visitors and help them design their visit to the event. By connecting to our exhibitor search, Alexa also offers exhibitors the option to provide further information about themselves. Those responsible for Hypermotion were also impressed by these possibilities and we could therefore gain their support for the pilot project. All the participants were very excited, because to my knowledge we are the first to have implemented such a project in a trade fair environment with the Hypermotion skill for Alexa.
Which areas did the service cover?
We participated in a workshop with the Hypermotion team to define which questions the skill should be able to answer. For example, we decided to include some simple information about where to find the cloakroom, toilets and press area as well as information about the opening times. However, the skill also includes search options for exhibitors and their location as well as registration for other conference modules or the ability to upgrade tickets. Alexa was even able to provide information on special offerings and explain what a hackathon is. All four of the Amazon’s Echo devices installed for visitors to use Alexa at Hypermotion were additionally programmed, so they could provide information about the current location and use this to provide further directions for other selected objects or locations.
Which questions were asked most?
The majority of questions (about 40 percent) had to do with the scenarios stored in the Hypermotion skill. Another 30 percent were more general questions. These included things like, “What are the winning lottery numbers for next Saturday?” or “Alexa, tell a joke”. However, these questions also ended up having some value of their own. In the catering area, quite a large group of people gathered around Alexa due to the funny questions and ended up talking to one another. In this way, Alexa contributed to creating a good atmosphere and promoted personal contact. The remaining 30 percent of requests could not be included due to various factors such as partial questions being asked or single words being spoken.
How satisfied are you overall with the use and acceptance?
Overall, we can draw a positive conclusion. Over the three trade fair days, we achieved 1,300 interactions with a total of 2,100 participants. Therefore at least every second visitor interacted with Alexa on average. We have even been approached by employees of Messe Frankfurt subsidiaries, who are interested in using Alexa for their own events.
What does further planning consist of? Where do you see more applications in the future?
We have not yet made concrete plans for further use. But the result and the positive feedback are reason enough to consider other possible uses. For example, additional exhibitor information or even advertising could be included. More detailed navigation to the sought topic or location, or even match-making via longer customer dialogues are all worth considering. Alexa make suggestions for exhibitors based on specific interests and describe how to get there. Using Amazon’s Echo Show device, which includes a screen in addition to the Alexa speaker, we would even have the possibility to provide concrete directions or other information on the display in the future. As you can see, this technology combined with an intelligent use of the underlying data has enormous potential.
Thank you for your insight, Mr. Emrath!