Broadw.ai, an artificial intelligence company that services Broadway ticketing and customer service platforms, is adapting its software to better respond to ticket buyers impacted by the Broadway shutdown.
Since its inception in 2018, Broadw.ai has amassed nine Broadway clients and two Off-Broadway, according to Micah Hollingworth, co-founder and chief executive of the company. Since the shutdown, the software has been fielding an influx of questions about ticket refunds and possible cancellations. The questions have only increased as Broadway’s return date remains uncertain.
Broadw.ai and its sister company, Satisfi Labs, develop natural language processing artificial intelligence, or software programmed to recognize and respond to human language, for Broadway show websites. Their projects have also included ticket-buying integrations with Amazon Alexa.
Broadw.ai employees collect all available information about a show and program it into their AI software. When a customer types or speaks a question into the chat box on a show’s website, the AI program recognizes key words and generates an answer.
Once such a system is established, company employees monitor the software’s responses and update the database in real time, adding new keywords and information as performers and show schedules change.
Beginning March 12, the day Broadway closures were announced, Broadw.ai began focusing on adapting to a surge of questions from customers about what will become of their tickets, programming its software to respond appropriately to keywords like “coronavirus” and “shutdown.”
The company was able to update all of its chat programs, including information on when and how customers could receive refunds, within two hours, Hollingworth said.
Though a majority of patrons initially inquired about when they could purchase tickets post-shutdown, the trends have shifted. The software has recently seen more inquiries about cancellations and refunds from customers who held tickets for performances after April 12, Hollingworth said.
These inquiries come as the Broadway League has maintained an official reopening date of April 13. However, the League has told its members that the actual reopening date remains uncertain, as the theaters must await the approval of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to resume activities. The League is expected to update its guidance soon.
Meanwhile, many shows saw a 50% increase in overall inquiries this past week, Hollingworth said, with most regarding cancellation, refund and exchange policies for upcoming performances if the shutdown extends beyond that date.
In response to these trends, Broadw.ai developed a new feature called Knowtify, which allows patrons to subscribe to email or text alerts to receive scheduling updates and offers on future ticket purchases.
“The easier you can make it for fans to get the information they’re looking for in this highly stressful circumstance for all involved, it provides you a better opportunity for them to come back at a later date and hopefully to the show,” Hollingworth said.