StubHub has launched a new voice-activated bot for Microsoft Cortana that helps consumers discover the live events and experiences they want to attend.

The eBay-owned ticketing marketplace along with pizza delivery company Domino’s are among the first major companies to introduce ‘skills’ for Cortana, an artificial intelligence (AI) personal assistant created by Microsoft for Windows 10, Xbox and other platforms.

To use the StubHub Skill, consumers with the Cortana assistant simply ask for live event ideas. The StubHub skill then takes them through a discovery process based on their location and interests to connect them with ideas for live events.

“Think of the StubHub Skill for Cortana like a concierge that suggests what people can do based on their interests and what their friends are doing, in a natural, conversational, one-to-one experience,” said Mats Nilsson, head of product, UX and PMO for StubHub. “We believe the StubHub Skill for Cortana can help consumers get ideas for live events at the moment they’re inspired to go out, with minimal friction in the experience, as easily as talking with their friends.”

In building the StubHub Skill for Cortana, StubHub leveraged the Microsoft Bot Framework, and well as LUIS, Microsoft’s proprietary natural language processing (NLP) AI, and added a layer of inputs from a variety of StubHub sources to create the most conversational experience possible.

StubHub engineers analysed the results of the StubHub chatbot for Skype to understand people’s expectations and how their conversations evolved, and also tapped into a key StubHub differentiator – the face-to-face interactions between StubHub’s Last-Minute Services (LMS) team and their customers – to understand the types of conversations people have in real life about StubHub, and how the StubHub Skill for Cortana could simulate those.

Kit sponsorship for Spurs game

Meanwhile, StubHub is set to raise its profile in Asia after it was announced as the kit sponsor of Hong Kong football club Kitchee SC for this month’s game against English Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur.

As well as appearing on team shirts, StubHub will also be the official match pre-sale ticket partner of the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre Challenge Cup in Hong Kong on May 26.

The match will be one of the most popular sports events in Hong Kong this year, with international stars such as Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen on show. Son Heung-Min, one of Asia’s finest footballers, will also be a major draw for the game, which comes at the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

The profits from the match will be donated in its entirety to the Kitchee Foundation for supporting the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre, contributing to the future development of Hong Kong football.

Earlier this week, StubHub announced a new partnership with English Premiership rugby club Northampton Saints.