Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 30
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Satisfi to provide MiLB with bilingual chatbots

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

 

Minor League Baseball has reached a multiyear deal with artificial intelligence company Satisfi Labs to create bilingual chatbots that will provide in-venue, real-time customer service for affiliated clubs. Financial terms were not disclosed.

 

The New York-based Satisfi Labs has previously worked with major league teams in multiple sports including the Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Lightning, among others, to create mobile-based chatbots capable of answering hundreds of different fan questions such as where to locate specific amenities.

The MiLB alignment, however, seeks to break new ground on several levels. The deal represents the first time Satisfi Labs has done a large-scale, league-level deal, and the system will be used this season by the 33 clubs participating in the ongoing “Copa de la Diversión” Hispanic outreach program, with a broader rollout planned for 2019. The MiLB deal also marks the first time that Satisfi Labs has done a significant project in a foreign language, as the service will be available to fans in both English and Spanish.

And unlike prior distributions of the artificial intelligence technology embedded within team mobile applications and websites, the MiLB deployment will initially be through participating teams’ Facebook Messenger pages.

The deal and its underlying support of the “Copa de la Diversión” program — which also includes alternate team nicknames and uniforms, Hispanic heritage nights and other activities — represent additional tools in MiLB’s overarching goal to increase annual attendance from current levels of about 42 million to 50 million by 2026.

“We see this very much as another attendance driver,” said Kurt Hunzeker, MiLB vice president of marketing strategy and research. “It’s all about using technology to help our clubs be more responsive and better serve our fans and allow them to have a more personalized experience at the ballpark.”

The deal was more than a year in the making and will include a sponsorship component in which certain categories of the automated responses, such as queries around beer or soda, can be sponsored by particular companies. Both MiLB and Satisfi Labs will sell against the content.

“Basically what we’ve done is work with Minor League Baseball to build a mini search engine,” said Don White, Satisfi Labs’ chief executive and co-founder. “And just like Google or other search engines, this enables fans to find what they need very quickly, the system gets smarter over time, and you can build an AdWords-type of business against that.”