CROWDS at the Glastonbury Festival will be able to get up-to-date information about the entertainment thanks to a Bournemouth company’s innovation.

Around 135,000 people have tickets for the annual Somerset event, which runs until Sunday and is headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Bournemouth digital agency Greenwood Campbell has developed a chatbot which works with Facebook Messenger to give up-to-date information about changes to line-ups and schedules at the event.

Managing director Adam Greenwood said: “As we have been learning more about the capabilities of artificial intelligence and chatbots, we wanted to use this technology to solve a problem or enhance people’s experience.

“We got a small team together and threw some ideas about. Some of the team were going to Glastonbury this year and we started to talk about the difficulties people have with changes to act and stage schedules.

“This has been looked at by the team at Glastonbury and they have an app and they update their website as and when changes are made to schedules.

“However, the solutions provided have some drawbacks: a lot of users don’t like downloading apps due to low storage on their phones and the website can sometimes be unreachable because the service at the festival is intermittent at best.”

The Greenwood Campbell team had been reading about the emergence of Facebook Messenger as the second most popular social network, after Facebook itself. Case studies with Domino’s Pizza and CNN showed high engagement and customer satisfaction, he said.

The team also researched the data usage of Facebook Messenger and found it to be very low compared with Facebook itself, he said. “We tested Facebook Messenger on 2G and Edge networks and found it to be quick and responsive,” he added.

“So we decided that a lightweight, simple chatbot using Facebook Messenger with very simple functionality could be very useful and enhance festival-goers’ experience.”

The company brainstormed suggestions for a simple structure of possible questions and answers to establish what the chatbot could do.

“We connected to an open source feed of information that would allow us to serve this information to our users,” Mr Greenwood said.

“The bot launched the week before the festival and with some help from forum posts and Facebook, Twitter and Instagram ads, received 101 conversations in the first day.”

The chatbot will not bring in any revenue directly. “The reason we have done this is to trial the technology, learn from the massive amount of usage from the festival-goers and then look to see how we can monetise this in the future,” he added.