AI is disrupting the world. Events are next.

When Google execs played a recording of an assistant booking a haircut for a client at a developer’s conference, it caught the world by storm. Why? While it sounded and responded just like a human, the “assistant” wasn’t a human voice at all. It was AI, taking on a task previously handled by people.

The recording acted as a shot across the bow for industry leaders everywhere. AI is coming, and it’s going to dispute everything. So what does that mean for the future of events? Our first glimpses are now being revealed.

A New Wave of Efficiency

As much as event planners fight to avoid them, bottlenecks are a huge source of headaches for event attendees and managers alike. Most event planners would give an arm and a leg to wave a wand and streamline the check-in process, food lines, and beverage orders. Artificial Intelligence is poised to do just that. The core proficiency of AI is to ingest large sets of data, like a genius with a photographic memory standing at hundreds of events and watching the behavior of each guest, then using that data to predict future behavior. It’s a complex process with a straightforward output. The potential feedback? You should order 13 more chicken dishes that you planned, move your drink stations 10 feet to the left, and add two more trash cans to your reception area. Bottlenecks, obliterated.

Heating Up the Warm Lead

Another key application of a prediction model is to help a sales staff identify better leads. AI can use data collected over years of successful and unsuccessful ticket sales to draw a picture of the most probable conference attendee. You thought you were looking for any kind of veterinarian to attend your industry conference? Tomorrow, AI could narrow your search to vets in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, with staffs of 2-7, who also use paid social advertising in their marketing practices. Talk about a warm lead.

Put a Brain in Their Pockets

For most event planners, the first entry to AI is already in your pocket. An estimated 25% of mobile apps already incorporate some variety of AI into their infrastructure. Among the most common applications is the chatbot. You may call yours Alexa, Google, or Siri, but chatbots are are excellent way to cut through complex interfaces and get important information to your attendees. When effective, chatbots can reduce the number of staff members you’ll need to employ on the ground. “How long is our lunch break?” can now be answered by Siri.

Robots Just Want to Have Fun

For all the serious and profitable uses of AI in event planning, you’re more likely to hear of another for the foreseeable future: fun. Before the novelty wears off, many conference attendees are getting their first taste of AI by interacting with an order-taking robot, listening to a compelling speech given by a humanoid, or previewing a proposed breakout session lineup based on your work history and social media accounts. Some may see AI as nothing but the latest source of buzz. But when tomorrow’s event orders the precise meal we were craving without asking for our input, we may begin to see it’s full potential.

In the meantime, we’ll be watching this in awe.

 

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