The tourist office of Drôme-Ardèche is a forerunner in tourism and has been using its chatbot for 4 years. The chatbot allows the tourist office to create a real conversational and interactive experience with tourists, and communicate about the many activities and places that make up the region. We talked to Dimitri Sanial, who is behind the chatbot project, to get his advice and best practices. The exchange is rich in information that each botmaker can soak up before getting started!
Introduce yourself and your company…
I am Dimitri SANIAL, Development and Marketing Officer at the Porte de DrômArdèche Tourist Office. The Tourist Office Porte de DrômArdèche is located in Hauterives, a stone’s throw away from the Ideal Palace of the Facteur Cheval, it is a site not to be missed in the Drôme. We ensure the promotion of 34 communes between Drôme and Ardèche but also other missions such as the reception of the visitors, a service of store of local products and ticket offices of sites, spectacles and activities organized by the Office and the accompaniment of the professionals of tourism, the communication via the web and the social networks.
What were your issues before launching your chatbot?
Innovation and the desire to surprise is at the heart of the Tourist Office’s DNA. We have always wanted to give our visitors an experience. We were the first tourist office to welcome our visitors with a Pepper robot, not to replace the tourist advisors at the office, but to generate a flow of visitors in the reception area and encourage us to recruit more staff. Our robot has thus made it possible to create and make live the experience of artificial intelligence. By creating a conversational agent, we wanted to create a fun tool to promote our destination.
How did you come to the conclusion that a chatbot would meet these needs?
The idea was to try to bring an answer to the visitors of our website outside the opening hours of the tourist office. The conversational agent, by its immediate and permanent reactivity, met the objective of continuous service and optimization of the 24-hour transformation. On our website we have a lot of content, either in the form of data from the apidae database or in the form of blog posts. The chatbot makes it easier to find certain content.
Does a chatbot have a place in the tourism sector?
The human element is always at the heart of our tourist office’s reception system. The chatbot doesn’t try to replace it but offers a different and fun experience to the user. In the tourist offices, our job has evolved enormously, for some we are still considered as distributors of leaflets whereas we have a central role in the promotion of a territory and the accompaniment of professionals. We provide a lot of personalized advice to our visitors, offer products and activities and stores in our territory.
Why did you choose the Botnation solution?
We’ve been around the block a bit in creating conversational agents. We needed a solution that was simple and scalable to implement. As a tourist office, we also think about our impact and we chose Botnation, a French company, for its support in French but also for its reactivity and availability for the creation of the chatbot.
How did you build the chatbot? What was the creative process?
At the beginning, we thought about what our chatbot should be, the idea was to propose an inspirational chatbot, linked to the desires or interests of our user. He also had to respond to recurring requests that may or may not appear on our website. So we thought about a scenario for the chatbot to create a decision tree. We also worked with the team to bring up recurring issues. We worked on giving a personality to this chatbot so that the experience would be fun to show that the visitor is talking with a virtual agent. We also gave her a face and a name: DANA. This little name, which reminds us of a famous song, has the advantage of being very short and easy to remember. What we are most proud of is that we were able to do it all in-house. The solution is also very scalable and allows you to test your scenarios. The chatbot is constantly improving as we adapt our responses based on feedback from our Internet users.
Have you been able to measure the first results?
We have integrated the chatbot on our new website. The chatbot has thus made it possible to increase the visibility of certain deeper pages. We consider it as a complementary channel to reach new prospects: the chatbot has a playful vocation and animation, the tone is rather light and even makes jokes to the visitors.
Would you have some advice for a company that also wants to launch a chatbot?
The solution allows anyone to create a custom chatbot rather easily, but I invite you to put your decision tree in the form of a table, even if it means going back and modifying the sequences. I also think it’s important to explore all the solutions that Botnation provides and don’t hesitate to call on the help of consultants to help you build your conversational agent. Think carefully about its identity to give a personality to its chatbot. Have your chatbot tested by your team and by the people around you.