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The Sankei Biz site reports on a new offering from the Kintetsu travel/hotel/department store group – a virtual concierge that channels experts to help you select wine and sake.

The “virtual concierge” is a chat bot trained by Kintetsu’s own expert employees, who will host live events on Sat 2 and Sun 3 June 2018 at the group’s Abe no Harukas department store and the Mariott Hotel in Osaka.

Accessible online, the “concierge” is intended to help customers select the right wine or sake. The first phase of the service started in October 2017, with Masahiko Sugihara, senior sommelier at the Shima Kanko Hotel, serving as wine expert and Shuichi Aoyama, sake adviser in the Kintetsu department store, as sake expert. Over 11,000 people have used it so far.

The “live” event will have both experts talking about selecting and pairing wine and sake, including tastings, and allow the audience to hear them discussing their choices. Kintetsu hopes it will both increase interest in wine and sake and convince guests that their experts can help them choose the right one, leading them to use the online service and other Kintetsu offerings. The group intends to use both online services and live events to provide added value to their customers.