The Stratford Tourism Alliance has introduced a new online tool that will make organizing a trip to the city and finding things to do much easier.
Last week, the organization launched its virtual concierge on visitstratford.ca, an artificial-intelligence-driven program designed by Chillwall AI that intuitively assists website visitors with finding events and experiences in and around Stratford that cater to their own personal preferences.
“First and foremost, it really focuses on a person’s own interests… The AI is so intelligent that it starts to learn about each user individually over time,” said tourism alliance executive director Lori DeGraw. “So as a person starts to look for certain things — let’s say they’re not just a foodie, but maybe they like Asian food and maybe they love sushi — it would start to gain these insights into a person and it would say, ‘Wait a second, there’s something at the Chefs School about making sushi rice, and there’s also a sushi restaurant down the way, and even an Asian art exhibit that might be of interest.’
“So it starts to make these connections through people’s passion points, and that’s the type of information that continues to be referenced and sent back to the user.”
Drawing from the Stratford tourism database of more than 800 events, experiences, and businesses, the virtual concierge will not only make recommendations based on the user’s past searches, but it will also only recommend experiences that are available specifically during the visitor’s expected stay in Stratford.
Those who use the site to curate a list of planned activities, events, and experiences also have the option to plot their trip schedule on a map that can be used throughout their stay in Stratford.
Chillwall AI is a cloud-based desire prediction artificial intelligence firm that uses deep learning analytics to aggregate, analyze, and recommend things to do in more than 2,000 cities through their own website. DeGraw said the partnership with Stratford tourism came about as the company began looking to expand outside of its traditional zone of influence.
“The founders… are all related to the Deep Learning Institute at the University of Waterloo, so they’ve been developing this technology over the last three years through Chillwall’s (website)… They’ve been looking for partners to really launch this, and saw… a real connection to tourism. There’s so much around tourism, with the experiential nature of it, that really fits in well with this technology… They knew about Stratford’s unique position through some connections they had here, so they reached out,” DeGraw said.
“Stratford is one of Canada’s most unique tourism destinations. From theatre to savoury food trails to visual arts, Chillwall AI is excited to power personal discovery without searching. Visitors (can now) effortlessly experience all that Stratford has to discover,” said Dr. Ian Knowles and Michael Campanelli, co-founders of Chillwall AI, in a press release.
And the virtual concierge does more than just streamline the planning process for a trip to Stratford. On the back-end of the program, DeGraw said it collects data and statistics on tourist trends.
By collecting this type of information, tourism alliance staff can gain a better understanding of where those interested in Stratford are from and what kinds of events, activities, and experiences catch their attention most, allowing for the development of more targeted tourism marketing strategies.
“The… virtual concierge is an exciting project, and a great example of the kind of innovative thinking that makes Stratford unique,” Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson said in a press release. “It also represents a positive use of smart technology, helping to showcase everything our community has to offer.”
As the concierge program depends on the tourism alliance’s database, DeGraw is asking businesses and organizations that would like to be included in its recommendations to provide their hours of operation and information about the events, activities, or experiences they offer by emailing either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by calling the tourism alliance at 519-271-5140.