Broadway’s Virtual Assistant Gets Wicked and Preps for Voice Opening Night
A virtual assistant can help you get the perfect tickets to long-running Broadway musical Wicked thanks to the aptly named Broadw.ai. The AI platform developer announced its partnership with Wicked today after a quietly rolling out a limited release of the virtual assistant earlier this year.
More than 90,000 tickets have been sold via the chat-based virtual assistant, built by Broadw.ai in collaboration with Satisfi Labs. Visitors to Wicked’s website or its avatar on Facebook Messenger can ask the AI about the best tickets to get and buy them directly in the conversation via Ticketmaster. They can even ask about places to eat and things to do in the area.
“We’ve had the website chat [for Wicked] set since early January. On a website, it’s just handing off a code they can apply to their website, but Facebook has its own wrinkles, so we held off the announcement until now,” said Broadw.ai CEO Micah Hollingworth in an interview with Voicebot.
Virtual assistants are already improving Wicked’s finances. Hollingworth said the average ticket is selling for 20 percent higher than the weekly average, bringing a 700 percent increase in return on investment since January.
Of the 30 shows currently on Broadway, Hollingworth said eight are using the Broadw.ai virtual assistant, with a dozen more in talks to integrate its services. With the proven success of text virtual assistants, the next move is connecting the platform to voice assistants. The difference in how tickets are purchased, however, makes it a little more complex.
“It’s a different approach from Ticketmaster or Telecharge,” Hollingworth said. But, we are finishing the certification process [for voice]. All of it is readily scalable for multiple platforms,” Hollingworth said. “More significant is the data being generated. Shows will know what prices people are asking for, they can know where to expand or focus on where there is a lag. For a show like Wicked that is going to be there for the next decade, if not forever, that data is incredibly useful.”
Broadw.ai works with more than just musicals on the Great White Way. The company works with ticketing agencies for events around the country and offers its virtual assistant in partnership with Major League Baseball as well. As Broadw.ai continues to improve the AI and add new information to the database, the assistant’s capabilities will grow.
“We’re constantly adding to the knowledge base or working on the Natural Language Processing part of the system so that [the assistant] can find the right answers to people’s questions, or, if it’s close, help guide them [to the answer],” Hollingworth said. “We want it to be Swiss Army Knife of an AI layer for clients to capture information. It basically pays for itself with improved ticket sales.”
This is an example of how the general-purpose consumer voice assistants are not likely to solve every voice commerce challenge alone. There is complexity in the ticketing process that goes beyond what Alexa and Google Assistant know today. That provides an opening for companies like Broadw.ai to provide added benefits around specific use cases. It also will serve as another catalyst for voice commerce. Solutions such as Broadw.ai’s assistant being launched for voice assistants also provide new evidence that further justifies eMarketer’s recent move to raise its voice shopping estimate for 2019 from 24 million to 31 million U.S. users.