America Online Inc. Tuesday announced enhancements to its
interactive Moviefone service as well as the debut of “Ask the Concierge,” a
free online program that offers personal, real-time assistance from live,
local concierge agents.
AOL Moviefone, which offers film information and ticketing via telephone and the Web, Monday added speech recognition technology to the service. As a result
callers can select a movie or enter additional information, such as their
zip code or credit card number, by speaking into the phone. The heart of the
new technology is a high-density speech recognition board, which provides an
economical solution by supporting a large number of simultaneous
conversations in a small space.
“People today are more mobile than ever and are demanding instant access
to information,” said Dan Furman, president of Lucent Speech Solutions.
“Moviefone’s latest enhancement is a great example of how technology can be
used to give callers the information they need quickly and easily.”
“Ask the Concierge” is powered by VIPdesk.com, an Internet concierge
service and AOL’s Digital City, the company’s collection of city guides. The service
presently is offered in Washington, D.C., with plans to offer it to additional
markets over the next several months.
“Ask the Concierge” provides “insider” city information, such as hotels
and accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, sports and recreation,
shopping and services, around the house services and an “At Your Service”
category that captures anything else that might be requested.
The live, local concierge agents use their knowledge and expertise
regarding specific geographic areas, hometown communities and regional
content to help fulfill requests. The service also uses a centralized team
of concierge agents to handle requests on a national level.
Users are offered three ways to request a service and find information:
e-mail, live one-on-one chats and instant access to a knowledge database of
frequently asked requests. After a user submits a request to Digital City’s “Ask the Concierge,” a concierge agent goes to work fulfilling the request
and delivers a personalized response while the user waits.
“Our live concierge agent network concept catapults the Internet personal
service industry to the next logical level,” says Mary Naylor, CEO of
“People want to connect with real people when they want to find
relevant information and take it a step further – getting things done. We’ve
combined that idea with the speed and efficiency of the Internet to help
launch a new real-time personal service assistant infrastructure. Our
partnership with Digital City will deliver this service
dynamically in the best possible way.”