AI in Business Events

Where It Is Relevant and How Organisations Can Get AI-Ready

19.02.2024 | by Matthias Schultze, Managing Director, GCB

How can AI be harnessed in a meaningful way for the next generation of business events? This is a key question our industry needs to answer and actively engage with now. Let’s look at some answers, jointly developed by business event organisers.

In our first “ebx.lab” workshop, which the GCB German Convention Bureau launched last year as a series of collaborative innovation workshops for marketing and communication managers, we focused on the potential of AI to solve various pain points in the event cycle. During the workshop, the 30 participants not only developed five prototype AI applications for business events, including an AI assistant enabling personalised event experience and a smart event programming platform for event planners. Crucially, their discussion also identified the four areas of business events in which AI will be most relevant:

1. AI as a Driver for the Personalisation of Business Events 

Attendee acquisition and engagement as well as making events personally relevant are recurring challenges for organisers. Advanced AI applications will be able to personalise event experiences based on attendees’ specific interests and requirements and deliver a more personalised experience throughout the customer journey, from how events are marketed to developing corresponding programmes. 

2. AI for Optimised Event Planning and Management Processes 

In the future, AI applications will automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks in the event cycle. This will free up organisers to concentrate on creative tasks and make strategic decisions. AI can also support the optimisation of on-site event management. 

3. AI for Better Engagement With and Networking Among Attendees 

Events often fail to enable effective networking among attendees and lack innovative formats to engage people. Chatbots, virtual assistants and other AI-driven tools can promote real-time communication and interaction. AI can also make valuable contributions with regard to interactive and immersive sessions and workshops. 

4. AI as an Enabler for Data-Driven Insights and Predictive Analyses 

New algorithms and comprehensive data models provide organisers and planners with smart and highly specific data analyses that help them evaluate past events and develop optimised strategies for the future. Ideally, this results in higher customer satisfaction, a better return on investment and long-lasting impact. 

AI-Readiness for Organisations

It is crucial to understand that the AI-driven improvements highlighted above can only become a reality if organisations make themselves AI-ready. From the workshop discussion, the following steps to take now in order to enable AI integration strike me as particularly relevant: 

Educate Your Staff and Build AI Know-How  

Which AI tools are out there and might already be implemented, what is it like to work with AI – now is the time to inform your staff about AI trends and applications and offer training to build up the necessary knowledge. This can be done internally, by working with external experts or using online resources, always considering the varying skill sets of your team to tailor training accordingly. 

Strategy Matters: Develop Your Organisation’s AI Guideline 

Based on our discussions, only few organisations seem to have a dedicated AI strategy for business events and set guidelines for how to handle AI. To ensure consistency from the start, develop a clear strategy for the use and integration of AI in your organisation. Define goals, select the right technologies for your needs and set milestones for implementation.  

Work on Your Data to Enable Effective AI Solutions 

AI applications are only as good as the data they are based on. However, the reality in many organisations is that data is often handled inefficiently, even though huge amounts of relevant data are available in the business events sector. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure the quality of your data. It needs to be well maintained and relevant for your AI applications. To that end, review and cleanse existing data and enable data sharing within your organisation (across departmental silos!) while also implementing clear and transparent data protection measures.  

Don’t Go It Alone: Collaborate for Your Strategic Advantage 

AI can seem to be yet another big piece of work for business event professionals on top of all the other challenges that need tackling. Therefore, don’t forget that strength lies in collaboration. Share experiences and know-how with others within your sector or indeed across sectors. This can often accelerate learning processes and the implementation of new solutions. Find technology partners, work with start-ups – a small pilot project or proof-of-concepts with partners can be effective starting points to test the feasibility and added value of AI in a specific context before wider implementation. 

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