June 14th, 2024

Lodging association rolling out digital concierge

By Lethbridge Herald on May 21, 2024.

Herald photo by AL BEEBER Tyler Heaton of Lethbridge College demonstrates the new digital concierge being developed with the Lethbridge Lodging Association.

Al Beeber
Lethbridge Herald

The Lethbridge Lodging Association is paving the way to a new digital future for greeting visitors to the city.

A digital concierge, being developed with Lethbridge College, will soon give hotel guests and other visitors here an inter-active experience as they seek out things to do and see, as well as places to shop and eat.

The concierge, essentially a virtual tour guide, which is undergoing testing at the college before its anticipated launch in June, features a simulated woman named Kelly who will respond to questions voiced by visitors to hotels or locations the lodging association rents the concierge to.

Data is loaded into the concierge on specific local subjects. Kelly can recommend restaurants and provide other information in response to questions. 

A recent demonstration at Lethbridge College showed a seamless operation with the concierge who will be used at various hotels and other venues to help the lodging association, which runs the visitlethbridge.com website introduce visitors to the community.

Tyler Heaton and a team at the college have worked with a third party tool to create the concierge.

Heaton says the inter-action with the concierge can easily make a person feel he or she is engaging in a conversation with another human being.

Shilpa Stocker of the association envisions that once testing and trials are finished, the concierge will be used in hotel lobbies, at trade shows and even post-secondary institutions with potential applications for it going far beyond tourism.

While it only knows the English language, it does respond to different accents and Blackfoot words are being programmed into the the concierge system, as well.

Work began on the project in January.

The concierge has been given locations of all hotels in the city and is packed with information from the visitlethbridge.com website. I

t’s being called the “evolution of the pamphlet,” providing readily accessible information to visitors.

Stocker says the concierge will position Lethbridge as a more progressive community.

“It will bring information to people where they’re at, rather than having them go to a visitor information centre,” said Stocker during a demonstration.

“Our intent with developing this is to have this where visitors are at – hotel lobbies, we can use this as trade shows. We would love at some point for it to be used by post-secondary to recruit students. . . You could use it for recruitment of employees. This is our way of showing anybody and everybody what Lethbridge is about without them having to go to a particular place to find out about it. This is meeting people where they’re at and in a very user-friendly manner,” said Stocker.

One of its biggest advantages, said Heaton, is “it’s a natural conversation.

By adding a visual person into that conversation, it’s more effective we found than the text-based typing in chatbox” found on websites.

“With this tool, you feel like you’re actually talking to a person,” said Heaton.

The concierge remembers the things people say and brings them back up in different parts of conversations, he said.

“It’s not a series of checking the boxes on the form, or clicking a list of options.” 

And every conversation is different, he said, with the Lethbridge Lodging Association giving people a chance to talk to an expert “in a very novel way.”

A wide range of information on the city can be found on the visitlethbridge.com website which recently announced its sponsorship of chuckwagon driver Chance Thomson for the 2024 Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede.

The association says the sponsorship will bring significant exposure to the city, providing a showcase to an audience of hundreds of thousands at the derby which runs during the Calgary Stampede in early July.

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interesting idea, one more person you don’t have to hire, one more person who won’t be asking for days off, one more person not staring into a phone, and one more person totally removed from any contact with a living breathing being. Isn’t technology wonderful. Soon we can eliminate talking to anyone and just talk to a screen. Advantage to business.


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