In an attempt to help tourists discover Ottawa’s top sites, the city’s tourism body has partnered with a local startup to put a tour guide right in the pockets of visitors to the National Capital Region.
“Faya” is a chatbot on the Facebook Messenger platform programmed with information about the city’s top cultural sites and activities.
Sending Faya a message along with the user’s location generates a list of nearby attractions, such as museums or statues, and a list of things to do. The chatbot also gamifies tourism, with users unlocking virtual badges for taking selfies with a statue or successful uploading a photo of a beavertail.
Ottawa Tourism teamed up with local startup MC2 to build the app to help visitors engage better with the city. MC2 launched another version of Faya with the City of Ottawa in November to help users find things to do during the Grey Cup.
“This social initiative will change the way people experience Ottawa’s attractions, allowing them to get to the heart of Canadian heritage and culture,” Ottawa Tourism CEO Michael Crockatt said in a statement.
Ottawa Tourism has recently spearheaded initiatives to help visitors navigate Ottawa, including better signage to help tourists navigate the city.
Chatbot assistants use artificial intelligence to interact over messaging platforms and services, giving canned or learned responses based on the information they’ve been fed. While the bot has a limited vocabulary at the moment ‒ saying hello or asking for specific directions are met with confusion – through use and further development, Faya’s interactions should become more refined.
Sites currently on the app include all of the region’s national museums and Parliament Hill, and also features special events this month for the NHL 100 Classic.