Satisfi Labs has entered the tours and activities market, offering attractions like zoos and aquariums artificial intelligence-powered chatbots that answer customers' questions -- and, importantly, provide the attractions with actionable data.

The New York-based company likes to call its chatbots "virtual employees." They have "the scalability of a website" but also offer a "personal touch" based on an attraction's brand and "the accuracy and the quality of speaking to an employee of that company," according to Courtney Jeffries, vice president of sales.

Before moving into the travel industry, Satisfi Labs created platforms for a number of professional sports teams. Within the tours and activities market, it counts among its clients Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium in Tennessee, Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Tennessee, the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Rhode Island, the Maritime Aquarium in Connecticut and the Baseball Hall of Fame in New York. Jeffries said Satisfi has also begun working with ski resorts.

The chatbots can come in a number of forms: traditional, text-based chatbots on websites or through an app or Facebook Messenger, a skill for digital voice assistants like Amazon's Echo or even via a humanoid robot like SoftBank's Pepper, Jeffries said. 

The bots can answer a number of questions, including about ticket prices, hours of operation and available discounts. After working in the professional sports space, Satisfi realized its platforms could be successfully applied in the travel industry.

"Why we are distinct is because all of the information that we gain within this conversation of various industries, various companies, brands, teams, facilities, everything gets funneled into one knowledge bank," Jeffries said. "And that's really crucial because that knowledge can then be shared across the network."

That helps Satisfi Labs understand exactly what attractions guests are looking for. And, in turn, Satisfi is able to share data with attractions.

"That data can be leveraged by a brand for revenue campaigns or marketing campaigns," Jeffries said. "It identifies trends of visitation or trends of consumers, so while we are an artificial intelligence company, at the same time, we do like to identify ourselves as a data acquisition firm."

One client, for example, had a number of guests who were asking for ticket discounts for local residents, something the attraction did not offer. Thanks to understanding the need, it now does.

"Those are insights into the customer that would never exist otherwise," Jeffries said.

Satisfi can also scale its intelligence to match a client's platform. For example, an attraction could have one stock answer for questions about tickets, or it could have a number of situational answers -- e.g., a separate, detailed answer if a client asks about group discounts. 

Its platforms also offer functional wayfinding, such as directing a guest who has asked where to buy pizza to nearby restaurants and offering walking directions and the ability to tie in promotions and marketing initiatives. Satisfi helps clients tie in initiatives through regular meetings to tweak their platforms.

"For us to really leverage the power of unstructured data, we run these reports and report back monthly trends so that they can start adjusting," Jeffries said.

While it depends on the complexity of a project, Satisfi can set up a new client's platform in about two to three weeks. Jeffries said it's not a matter of creating something brand new for that client, but "we're plugging that client into our brain," making it a relatively fast process.

Since entering the travel space in January, Satisfi's platforms have seen more than 10,000 unique users asking questions. Each attraction or facility gets about 200 questions per day, with spikes over the weekend. The top requests are about discounts, ticketing and hours of operation.

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