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ILLUSTRATION: MARK FISHER
Q.
Management thinks I should employ a "chatbot" for our user-conference registration. But what is a chatbot, and how would I use one?

A.
A chatbot is basically a computer program that mimics conversations with people using audio or text. It often operates within an established chat or messaging app, so businesses can build one into their existing apps or social-media pages.

Chatbots are often used to replace a conversation one might have with a human via a series of logic-based questions and answers. For example, let's say you want to buy a pair of shoes from a retailer that happens to have a chatbot accessible via Facebook Messenger. The chatbot might ask you "What do you want to buy?" Once you answer "Shoes," it'd continue the conversation with more specific questions about the size, style, and price of shoes you want to purchase, and so on. Ultimately, it would help you narrow your choices and complete the purchase.

In terms of chatbot use in the exhibit and event industry, here's one example. To augment the attendee-registration process for InterConnect 2017, IBM Corp. paired a chatbot with its online registration site and mobile app, enabling users to sign up for the conference and select their sessions via text or voice commands.


— EXHIBITOR staff
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