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In the dynamic world of event planning, staying ahead of the curve is paramount. As technology continues to evolve, artificial intelligence (AI) is making waves, offering tools and solutions that were once deemed futuristic.  AI isn’t even that new to the events world as it’s been used for data analysis and customer service for years. While you might be familiar with AI like Chat GPT (which wrote the first two sentences of this piece),  there’s a lot more to AI and its potential applications for every phase of an event. What has happened is an explosion of new applications and heights of the maturities of what’s available. Here are a few ways to think about AI and its relationship to event organizing.  

Your Job Isn’t Going Anywhere

One of the first things I’ve come to the conclusion of is that AI isn’t replacing event organizers jobs. I’ve been researching AI heavily for the past year as it relates to event roles in preparation for the launch of PCMA and Event Learning Institute’s Enhancing Events with AI Course that I designed and continue to facilitate. What I’ve uncovered is what AI is amazing at and where people are superior. When it comes to processing power, speed of thought, and access to information, AI is like magic. That said, people are undefeated when it comes to understanding context, using creativity and empathy. The art of bringing people together is largely the domain of empathetic design that leverages the very specific context of event goals and creatively overcoming challenges. AI can help assist in these efforts but the event organizer is the manager with a lot of seniority. 

More Inclusive Events with AI

Does it seem counterintuitive that I believe events can be human by using AI to design them? A sense of belonging is one of the guiding forces behind every gathering and creating an atmosphere of inclusivity is paramount to the success of any event. Limitations of time, resources, and information hampers an organizers ability to accommodate everyone. What happens then are a series of compromises that aim at the middle and push out people just outside that circle. With AI, we can ask generative chat bots questions about the impact of our designs while assigning them a role of a specific life experience. An example would be asking what the impact of attending a networking event in a nightclub might be for someone who is neurodivergent.  Additionally, AI-powered real-time translation and voice to text can enable more engagement from those who would otherwise struggle. The heavy lifting of being more inclusive is possible with AI freeing us up to use our amazing creativity and empathy to design intentionally for a wider audience. 

Breaking Binary Thinking

Most events and aspects of events are either deemed good or bad. They either worked or they didn’t. That type of binary thinking is reductive and makes iterative improvements very difficult. The lack of data in events has given rise to this type of thinking. Your exhibition booth either got enough leads or it didn’t and therefore, the show for the exhibitor was either good or bad. AI has the ability to go much deeper and uncover truths event planners haven’t been able to discover thus far. The organization I work for, Zenus, has developed ethical facial analysis AI that can determine the number of impressions, dwell rates, and demographic information of attendees who engage in specific experiences. With these numbers and the ability to gauge positive sentiment in attendees, AI has revealed just how effective nearly any aspect of an event can be as well as many other insights. AI has unlocked the nuance of experiences. 

Experiment Stage

These three examples of the deep impact potential AI for events are just the tip of the iceberg. It’s up to us to be domain experts and ask “Is there an AI for this?” when we’re up against challenges that we had previously thought were insurmountable. All those using AI for their events right now are pioneers and early adopters. This is a scary place for most in events because most prefer to wait until technology is so battle tested that it’s failure proof. I urge you to push past that inclination because AI is here to stay. It’s having its moment right now and you might think it is just tech hype but the reality is that AI is going to be baked into everything. Those who learn to embrace it and solve the challenges that really matter today will be the new market and industry leaders. There’s very little risk in learning about how AI can help empower you. This might just be the silver bullet that solves the biggest problem the event world has ever faced: lack of resources and time. What you do with your new found time and resources will be what sets you apart. 

Guest post by Nick Borelli, Marketing Director, Zenus, Inc.