AI and the future of the events industry: Saint, or Sinner?

Part One: Generating content with AI 

Headlines are increasingly dominated with news of the evolution of AI. Experts continually warn of the potential threats to jobs, peace, and even the survival of our species. Others believe that intelligent machines could save mankind from the various existential threats we face. While it remains unclear whether AI will lead to our destruction – with Terminators hunting down Sarah Connor – or our salvation, it seems that machine learning is here to stay. When it comes to the events industry, AI has the potential to enhance brand loyalty, improve engagement with audiences, and drive footfall.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that AI may impact our sector in the future. 

Event Planning

Creating content is a cornerstone of event planning. It’s a foundation we can use to push our creativity and wider strategy forward. So, we must ask: can AI help us to generate content that engages with audiences? The human experience is central to running a great event. We want to create experiences that nourish people’s emotional and psychological needs. And brand personality is another way we can make our mark and communicate to people the idiosyncratic nature of a particular event. If AI is to be of assistance to events professionals, it’s imperative that the content it generates is able to embrace both the vagaries of individual experience and broader human needs to drive interest. Failure to do so risks losing the very soul of a brand and what makes each event so unique.

Regulations and compliance 

As hyperbole in the press around the use of AI continues to rise, it’s clear that regulations in this space are thin at best. That’s very likely to change in the near future and will impact the way we all use AI within the workplace. The challenges of navigating and staying compliant with the letter of the law must not prevent us from embracing these technologies to enhance event content, however. Industry leaders must begin to integrate AI with existing teams, while ensuring that brand messaging isn’t lost and that the soul of every event is retained and maintains its uniqueness. Otherwise, we’ll just end up creating event clones, a situation that’s potentially as harmful as a familiar phenomenon of the early 2000s. I’m sure we’ve all been to events with endless star-cloth backdrops, twin screens, prominent central logos, and a well-known comedian to host. A once innovative idea can easily become a blueprint for repetition and boredom.

Eight key lessons on the benefits of AI

Early developments with AI have already given us a glimpse of the possibilities that lay ahead for those that embrace this technology. 

Some key lessons include: 

  1. Augmenting creativity: AI should be viewed as a tool to enhance the creative process, rather than as a replacement for human insight and engagement. AI can automate repetitive tasks, provide data-driven insights, and assist in content generation, but creative vision and strategy should come from event planners and marketers.
  2. Personalising engagement: AI can personalise content for attendees, making it more relevant and engaging. It can also analyse data to recommend sessions, speakers, or activities that align with individual preferences – improving the overall event experience.
  3. Automating efficiency: AI can save time and resources by automating content generation, data analysis, and repetitive tasks. That frees up event planners to focus on strategy and creativity.
  4. Driving better decisions: AI can provide valuable insights through data analysis, helping event organisers make informed decisions about content, scheduling, and resource allocation.
  5. Optimising content: AI can be used to improve content delivery. Dynamic scheduling based on attendee preferences, for example, helps to ensure that the most engaging sessions are prioritised and given due prominence.
  6. Improving experiences: AI can help to gather and analyse attendee feedback, enabling organisers to make real-time improvements to the event and its content.
  7. Scaling-up operations: AI can assist with scaling-up content production and personalisation, making it easier to manage larger events and to reach a broader audience.
  8. Enhancing interactivity: AI-powered technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and chatbots can create immersive and interactive experiences that engage attendees in new and exciting ways.

Four key concerns over AI implementation 

Alongside these benefits, it’s also important to exercise caution and ensure that AI is used ethically and responsibly. 

Consider the following:

  1. Protecting data privacy: Transparency around how attendee data is collected and will be used is crucial to ensure that we comply with data protection regulations.
  2. Ensuring quality control: AI can generate great content, but it’s not always able to capture the nuances of human creativity. We must ensure that AI-generated content aligns with branding and messaging.
  3. Retaining the human touch: Human creativity, empathy, and adaptability are essential for crafting memorable event experiences. Event planning and execution must retain this human touch. 
  4. Deploying testing and training: AI systems need testing and training to work effectively. Make sure that your AI tools are well-trained and thoroughly tested to avoid glitches during your event.

If you’re still not convinced that AI can help you to develop relevant, emotive, and really engaging content, I’m hopeful it helps when I tell you that the above bullet points were generated by ChatGPT. I’ll let you go back and re-read those points again now you know my dirty secret. 

Some final thoughts 

We stand at a pivotal point in history, akin to the impact of downloadable content on VHS and DVD rental shops. Agencies and creatives alike need to embrace AI to help generate event content, or risk becoming the next Blockbuster Video. Any tool that makes event planning and execution more efficient or that can take away the pain of hours of mind-numbing data entry (table plans, ugh!) has to be worth exploring. How refreshing would it be to have the hard last mile of a job you’re working on finished by AI? I’m sure we can all understand the benefits of being able to leave work on time to enjoy a large glass of Malbec and an Uber Eats delivery at home, rather than slavishly working away in the office until 8pm on a dark Thursday evening to hit that urgent client delivery deadline. 

Coming up next

In future articles, we’ll further break down the use of AI. That includes looking at key elements within the event planning process to better understand how the symbiotic blend of computers and humans could work. AI has the potential to cut down event planning time, improve agency efficiency or, even better than this, to use previously captured event data to drive measurable results that can be communicated to stakeholders. This is an exciting prospect that we’ll explore in Part Two of this blog series. 

Please look out for Part Two, where we dig into the practical uses of AI, and how we can use it to help cut down on tasks that take far too much time within every agency! Right now I have to go, there’s a huge man in a black leather biker jacket at my door telling me to go with him if I want to live…

Zak Roby
Commercial Director, ACA Live

If you need help with your next event, contact us today

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash