Artificial Intelligence (AI) is: the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.
AI is rapidly developing and has a growing impact on both our work lives and our leisure time. But how does AI effect the events industry and how can it contribute towards event success?
Chances are you are already using AI without even realising it. At a quotidian level, AI is present when we ask our Amazon Alexa device for the weather forecast, and when we ask Siri to make a phone call to a friend. This latter use is easily transferable to the events industry. Some of your delegates may already be using voice recognition technology to add an event to their calendar and/or to seek directions to the venue. Event planners can take this a step further by integrating voice recognition technology with their events app. This enables delegates to locate specific breakout sessions or to find out when the next coffee break will be served, all in one place!
According to Business Insider, 80% of businesses plan to be using chatbots by 2020 and the events industry is no exception. A chat bot is essentially a computer programme that can engage in either written or oral conversations, thus proving a useful tool for events of all sizes. Event planners can create chat bots that engage with their attendees and answer specific questions they may have in the lead-up to the event. Response time is almost instantaneous and the chat bot can operate 24/7, particularly useful when planning events on a global scale and needing to communicate with delegates in multiple time zones. Chat bots can also facilitate group chats among prospective delegates in advance of the event, therefore increasing engagement and facilitating networking.
One of the key benefits of AI in the events industry, is its ability to personalise recommendations for event planners, attendees, exhibitors and sponsors. From the offset, event planners can use intelligent platforms such as Styckie to assist them with their venue finding. Styckie uses an algorithm to source ideal vendors in specific locations based on a comprehensive set of event requirements.
Further down the line, at the live event stage, AI matchmaking engines such as Grip can be used to enhance the attendees’ experience and ensure that all interaction is as meaningful as possible. Smart matchmaking tools analyse a delegate’s profile - their goals, interests and social media data – in order to curate personalised recommendations for them in terms of insightful breakout sessions to attend, key people to meet and useful products to explore. Attendees can choose to schedule meetings prior to the event as well as indicating when they are not interested in the recommendations supplied by the system, which helps improve the next set of recommendations.
Learning and evaluation
The benefits of AI extend post-event too, through "deep learning”. Deep learning relies on pattern recognition, meaning that it can interpret data, add an element of reasoning and subsequently recommend new actions based on that reasoning. In an events context, this could mean using the technology to read registration and footfall data to anticipate the logistical requirements needed for next year’s venue. These judgements rely on a back catalogue of historic events data, as well as onsite feedback. A further example of how engaging with AI simply serves to develop and improve the technology and so allows us to reap even more of its benefits in future.
The AI industry continues to develop with astounding speed. Investment in AI startups is up 300% year-on year. This can only mean exciting things for the events industry not only due to the exciting new AI prospects, but also due to AI companies requiring events to showcase their new products.
A recent article published in The Times, told of a bar in London that is now using facial recognition technology to manage the art of queuing. No more sharp elbows and queue jumping, smart cameras have been installed to identify when each customer arrives at the counter. Their faces appear circled on a monitor behind the bar marked with their place in the queue and an approximate waiting time. Whilst we may still be a good few years away from being greeted at events by walking, talking robots, it only takes a little imagination to see how this kind of innovative technology could be implemented at live events to assist with crowd control and queue management.
AI isn't just the future, it is also heavily ingrained in the present. Let’s continue to engage with AI, allowing it to learn and better understand our events, making them more successful in the process.
By Rachel Axford
Rachel graduated from UCL in 2012 with a degree in French & Spanish. She cut her teeth in the events industry that summer with involvement in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and London 2012 and has never looked back! More articles by Rachel Axford