What is AI?
Perhaps you're thinking of HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, GLaDOS from Portal or Jude Law as a robot Gigalo. AI today is a lot less visible that sci-fi once imagined, it's subtle and is running in the background of our daily lives more and more. It’s any computer or app or website or device that takes actions that maximize its chance of success for a predetermined goal and gets better each time it tries, learning each time, just like us. That goal might be winning a game of chess or it might even be finding the perfect venue and suppliers for your event.
Take 'Google Now', it is constantly trying to provide you with relevant information. It does this by learning from the information it gathers about you. Via your phone, it will track you in real time. When it sees you’re at a station it will provide travel info. If you take the same route regularly it will use that knowledge to offer that info in advance as it has learnt this is your commute. It knows your music taste, reads your text messages, scans your calendar for appointments. In doing so it builds a virtual picture of you that it is constantly trying to refine and make more accurate so it can predictively offer helpful and relevant information.
Today, AI is less this...
and more this.
So, How Will AI Work in the Events Industry?
You’re an events professional and you need to organise a party.
You sit down at your laptop and type “the best London party venues” into Google. An algorithm somewhere compares your search against 5 billion web pages published in the 26 years the world wide web has existed.
Each time someone searches for “the best London party venues” this algorithm has intelligently learned which results are most relevant from each of the thousands of people who have previously searched for it, every time it learns a bit more, getting better each time.
This algorithm has learnt from reviews and feedback left by thousands of people hosting parties in London venues.
This algorithm has also learnt about you.
- It prioritises reviews from people in your extended network.
- It prioritises venues that you are familiar with from recent meetings or nights out.
- It prioritises venues that are similar to other ones you’ve looked at recently.
This algorithm has also learned that people searching for party venues find hirespace.com pretty useful and so it puts that front and centre too.
You enquire at four venues through hirespace.com and ping another couple off directly using an email plugin which has learnt the best time to actually deliver emails to each venue so that it’s at the top of a venue’s inbox when they sit down to reply. Clever eh?
While AI has certainly done a lot of legwork for you, your input is still essential in order to book viewings, cross reference availability and sort out the finer details. But the more AI and machine learning become features of events booking, the faster you’ll go from the search bar to fully fledged venue proposals. Suppliers, AV and other events support services can be smartly matched to the venue too, as the algorithms learn more and more.
How is it Changing the Industry?
AI has changed the experience of event sourcing beyond recognition. It’ll never replace the connection you can build with a venue or a client at a showcase, or how that relationship develops over time, but it has already replaced half the thinking behind modern venue sourcing.
Hire Space has sent over 250,000 enquiries to venues, and that data will be essential for streamlining supplier recommendations and creating unique customised experiences for event organisers.
Not only will AI make booking venues a breeze, but chatbots will be able to analyse trends in user data to provide more accurate and useful responses, relying less and less on pre-programmed “if X then Y” messages. This will provide a far better customer experience, whether that’s helping to book a venue or providing help as part of an app for an event.
AI has already changed the process beyond recognition, and given time there can only be more major shifts. As the booking process becomes more streamlined and efficient thanks to AI, the process will become less stressful and more time can be devoted to the creative aspects of events which will surely allow ever more unique, engaging and special experiences for guests.
Based on the Keynote by Hire Space Co-Founders, Ed Poland and Will Swannell at EventLAB 2017