Asked and Answered: Visit Buffalo Niagara Introduces First Destination Bot

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BUFFALO, NY – Visit Buffalo Niagara (VBN), the official tourism promotion agency for Buffalo and Erie County, N.Y., is making it easier for visitors to access information on the devices virtually everyone carries with them – smartphones. VBN has launched what it believes is the first bot by a destination marketing organization in the United States. Developed by GuideBot, VBN’s “Ask the Unexpected Buffalo” bot is housed on Facebook Messenger. Visitors can send a private message to Visit Buffalo Niagara’s Facebook page, which will automatically reply to them with information on upcoming events, restaurants and things to see and do in New York’s second-largest city.

“The thing we love about the GuideBot technology is the fact that there’s no downloading of a proprietary app or searching for a website and waiting for it to load,” said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara. “By using Messenger to contact Visit Buffalo Niagara, our visitors can get an immediate response about what’s going on in our destination. While the technology is quite young, we really believe this is the next wave in tourism tech and we’re excited to be leading the way.”

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According to the digital data researcher eMarketer, more than 1.6 billion people used mobile messaging apps in 2016 with new users being added every day. Facebook has been driving this trend in communications technology by encouraging developers to integrate bots into the Messenger platform. In the last year travel-related bots have been launched that allow users to book a hotel room, get information about a flight and weather updates about a destination.

“Given that organizations like ours have had our business model disrupted by tech-savvy competitors over the past 20 years, we are eager to be early adopters when it comes to technological innovation,” said Kaler. “To survive and thrive in destination marketing you have to fish where the fish are and right now travelers are on their phones and expecting speed and ease and convenience when they’re searching for information. That’s exactly what we’re providing by introducing our bot.”

“Bots are the next big thing in tourism, but until now they’ve been limited to big airlines and hotels,” said GuideBot developer, Dan Healy. “GuideBot takes the next step and allows destinations to connect directly to their visitors. I’m thrilled to be launching GuideBot in my hometown of Buffalo.”

For more information about Buffalo Niagara, send us a message via Facebook Messenger, or go to visitbuffaloniagara.com. For more information about GuideBot, visit higuidebot.com.