We predicted a trend for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to show its potential in 2018, and now we’re anticipating its dominance in the years to come. Notably, in the form of chatbots as well as integrated into fully-fledged event apps. Each has their perks for both event profs and event-goers, and we’ll be looking at how the functions you may already know them to have can be pushed further in future events. Now’s the time to ensure your attendees are having the best experience possible and receiving a previously unheard of level of assistance, with the support of AI for events.
We’re going to take a deep dive into the benefits of using AI for events and uncover:
- What are chatbots and their perks?
- What are event apps and their perks?
- How on-demand AI can be anything from a registration assistant to a comprehensive virtual concierge
- How chat AI and event apps can tie in with your social media strategy
- The potential for chatbots to win the day
- The ever-growing need for data protection
What are chatbots?
Chatbots are a conversational tool providing a variation on a chat-driven process. Their primary function is to give consistent responses to questions via programming. You might be most familiar with them as the friendly little pop-ups in the bottom corner of a website that offer you assistance. It’s that ability to assist, that cements chatbots as a new wave of communication in event support.
Are chatbots truly AI?
The level of AI used in chatbots can differ from one to the next. Currently, there’s a push for chatbots to be more AI-based, so they can start to understand the sentiments of the people they’re communicating with and then take appropriate action, like offering extended services for example. On the other hand, chatbots can also be very person-driven, but you don’t see the learning and ongoing benefits with this type of chatbot.
Right now, the most successful chatbots use natural language processing, which are AI tools with human-driven training. To give you an idea of this type of chatbot in action, consider how many ways there are to ask “where is the bathroom”. A chatbot would be programmed to understand this question, phrased in any number of ways and give a helpful response.
There’s a vast range of perks for event planners using chatbots as a form of AI for events. Some of these perks show that they may be a more suitable option than event apps, others demonstrate that chatbots are a huge asset to relieve the pressure on an event team in the immediate lead-up to, and during an event. We’re super excited about what this means for the event industry, and by the end of this section, think you will be too!
Low-cost entry and suitability for all event types
Chatbots have a low-cost entry, meaning using AI for events is not something for the distant future – it’s here. Because of their method of implementation (more on this in a moment), chatbots are particularly suited to smaller events, offering a communication method without the complexity of a fully-fledged event app.
But, what gives them great value is that chatbots work for every type of event in every industry. Every event goer needs communication channels to use, and because chatbots are explicitly tailored to your event, they are designed to deal with any related query. This means there’s no restriction to incorporating chatbots to one event style over another, but you can make chatbots a staple of your event planning prowess.
Chatbots have a more rapid implementation timeline than event apps. What does this mean for you? If you haven’t received as much notice from your client as you would have liked, or you’ve been absorbed with planning another event, you don’t have to panic. Ideally, you should contact your chatbot designer as early as possible for initial strategizing and scheduling. But you only need six to eight weeks setup time. And then you’ll launch the chatbot just one week before the event commences. An app requires significantly longer lead time, due to its complexity.
Chatbots also give event profs real-time insight into levels of attendee engagement and satisfaction. They enable you to look at data as it’s happening at the event – what questions are being asked the most, are there any recurring problems attendees are having, for example. What’s more, post-event surveys are easy to deploy via a chatbot. This use of AI for events also makes it more likely for event goers to complete your survey – after all, it’s easy for them to do on the fly when it’s via chatbot.
Event team support
What we see as the biggest benefit for event planners using chatbots is the level of support it lends to the team. As you well know, event teams are often large enough to manage event planning well and have every aspect covered. But, when it comes time to handle the volume of inquiries in the immediate lead-up and at the event itself, it can become overwhelming for the event team. A chatbot provides relief to the team, preventing them from spending their time answering the same questions over and over, and leaving them to deal with the more important issues and aspects of an event launch.
So, now you understand what’s in it for you when it comes to the benefits of using AI for events, specifically chatbots. But, what is ultimately more important is how chatbots improve the event experience for event goers. We break it down:
Immediate 24/7 support
When it comes to assisting attendees, I don’t know what says it better than real-time 24/7 support that is always on-hand (or in-pocket as the case may be!). Chatbots also assist attendees faster than the speed at which humans can deal with inquiries. Instead of searching through an event app, emails, paper materials or even picking up the phone to make a call, event goers can just type in that dreaded question “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” and receive an instant answer. A simple question gets a timely, simple answer – first time, every time.
Event goers don’t need to download a new app to use a chatbot or commit to sacrificing precious storage space on their phone. Instead, a chatbot is built into commonly used and popular apps like Facebook Messenger. This makes it much easier to access, and therefore a more appealing way of using AI for events. Because of how familiar attendees are with using chatbots, it also eliminates a possible learning barrier. It’s a big selling that point that event goers will be willing to use it.
For all you extroverts out there it may seem like a small thing to ask someone for help. But introverts can find this detracts from their event experience. So, for the introverted attendees who would prefer not to approach a member of event staff to ask them a question, a chatbot provides the perfect alternative.
Understanding event apps
In a poll, we found that over 80% of participants said they used an event app. So there’s a high chance you’re really familiar with them. But, in case you’re not, here’s a quick rundown.
What are event apps?
An event app can be designed from scratch or from template specifically for your event, to enhance the event experience for attendees. It provides information and functions concerning scheduling, access to speakers, networking and support.
Event apps share some convenient benefits with chatbots to give you greater insight into attendee engagement and relieve some pressure on the event team. But, they also make it easier for event profs to provide all necessary event materials to attendees.
Some similar perks to chatbots:
Just like chatbots, event apps can give you snapshots of data in real-time as your event is taking place. They also make post-event surveys, and even polls during an event, easy to deploy.
Event apps with integrated AI will provide a similar or possibly higher level of support to an event team’s resources. With large volumes of event information and an AI support feature, an event app will free up your team’s time. The event launch will be easier to manage, while also maintaining a high level of assistance for event goers.
At this point, event apps with integrated AI essentially provide more features than chatbots. They are therefore ideal for bigger events to showcase a lot of material and ensure attendees enjoy the full experience on offer. Having said that, they do require a considerably larger investment. What we love about event apps that incorporate AI is that they do a great job of gathering data about common attendee questions, identify their pain points and then provide solutions.
Perks of event apps with integrated AI for event goers
Event apps that incorporate chat AI provide the same conversational assistance to event goers but can do so in a more personalized way.
Some similar perks to chatbots:
Just like chatbots, event apps are accessible 24/7 and provide an immediate response to event goer queries. This makes them a more convenient option for event goer support than expecting an event team to cover all inquiries. We know – you get a lot of them! Event apps with integrated AI also provide assistance without the barriers that would typically make asking for help uncomfortable for introverted attendees, with in-person communications for example.
Despite their similarities, there are two things, in particular, that event apps provide more comprehensively than chatbots at this time. You see, event apps by nature can contain a full range of information about the event so that each event goer always has it on-hand. They can use it as a reference, to register for sessions and if they need assistance, turn to the in-built chat function. What that also means is that event apps provide a higher level of personalization for event goers. Because an event app can track and develop a sense of an attendee’s interests, it can give on-point recommendations to the attendee.
Using AI for events is a win for the environment
It’s easy to get carried away with the capabilities of AI for events and what that means for event goers – you’re event profs after all! But, what about the simple benefits it has for the environment? After all, you deploy chatbots and event apps solely online. We’re excited that this technology is a much greener and sustainable choice than printed materials for attendees – replacing things like schedules, maps, survey cards and more.
On-demand AI solves real problems for attendees, meaning they’re solving problems for you too. Using AI for events can look like reminders for event sessions, eventually providing suggestions for what to do next. This will cut down the time attendees spend browsing and researching sessions, but also the time which is wasted at events – like standing in line for the bathroom. No one can afford to lose time at events. Ultimately, AI can elevate the quality of services and heighten customized experiences. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- Chatbots could be simple registration assistants, helping prospective attendees through the process of purchasing a ticket or registering for a particular session.
- This could be used to make merchandise recommendations, much like Amazon does when you buy a book and it suggests others you may enjoy.
- Alternatively, recommendations could be geared towards networking opportunities worth taking advantage of.
- A system that reads footfall (likely teamed with use of beacons) could anticipate logistical requirements in real time for food, beverage and crowd control. Not only that, it can direct event goers to more convenient amenities by showing them where shorter lines are. Effectively, it becomes a virtual concierge.
If you’re having a little trouble wrapping your head around it, try thinking about AI as a way to understand the goals of attendees and deliver personalized recommendations, rather than following a rigid set of rules. AI matchmaking engines use data from social media profiles of attendees and interpret it in respect to the event. With attendees able to mark which recommendations they did or didn’t like, the AI starts a cycle of learning, so that the suggestions are better in the next round. The more the feature is used, the more it learns, and the better the result.
This beneficial for attendees, but also for exhibitors to better understand the needs and expectations of their potential customers. It provides visibility into these aspects so they can be better prepared in meeting them by:
- Personalizing their offerings
- Maximizing their space, time and personnel during the event
Looking forward: Integrating Chat AI and event apps into an event’s social media strategy
Event professionals will be investing more time in making items more “shareable” online. This is an effort to increase the reach of their events. But incorporating chat AI into a social media strategy could also mean using chatbots to push relevant offers or timely promotions.
We also think using AI for sentiment prediction (or opinion mining) is going to be huge. This involves analyzing social media comments, conversations and interactions to determine how event goers feel about your event. You can even gauge their expectations for your next event. Extremely valuable information to have when planning future events.
As technology improves and chatbots get even more sophisticated, event planners might not need dedicated event apps anymore. Let’s imagine for a moment that chatbots could deliver all required material, in a personalized, efficient matter. Team this with the fact that event goers are generally more likely to adopt a chatbot than an event app thanks to the familiar interface, and we’d say chatbots are going to win the day. A contentious argument we know!
AI for events and data protection: is it a cause for concern?
With each new technology and the gathering of additional data, come the social concerns for data protection and privacy. As an event planner, you must take all the steps necessary to protect the data you gather. But, you must also be transparent to event goers about what information you are collecting and give them every opportunity to opt-in beforehand. You must not assume you have the right to gather and disclose.
Shepard.com gives a good example: “Our AI system, for example, uses data to look for networking intent, and how well that was satisfied. Users are anonymous to each other until and unless they indicate they are both ‘Interested’ to meet. And private messages are private.”
A lot of investment is going into AI technology because the benefits are clear. And we’re excited about them for the event industry. We hope you’re excited about AI for events too. Not to follow the latest trend just because. But because you’re passionate about delivering a more streamlined and personalized experience to event goers now. And to gain valuable insights for events you plan in the future.
We’re curious – where are you on the path to incorporating AI for events? Please jump into the comments and let us know.