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The use of technology has helped make live events a better overall experience for attendees in a wide variety of ways. Guests can now book tickets online, look up valuable information on their smartphones, and even attend events virtually.
Event organizers have benefitted, too; technology has made it easier to organize, manage, and keep track of everything and everyone before, during, and after events. During the pandemic, it was technology that made it possible to continue events in new forms — often smaller and more personal than their large, in-person counterparts but not necessarily any less successful.
Now, technology is offering a new way to make live events even more powerful for guests and organizers through AI and data collection. With smartphones in nearly everyone’s pockets and bandwidth continually improving, businesses have access to an unprecedented wealth of personal and behavioral data through interactions online and through smartphone apps. This data makes it possible for event organizers to create experiences that are personalized to each attendee’s exact tastes, similar to how streaming services (like Netflix) and social media platforms (like TikTok) tailor content for each of their users.
In the event space, however, data and AI can do more than just provide standard personalized recommendations. They can be the tools that deliver an ultra-personal experience every step of the way. Organizers can use their platforms to do things like connect like-minded people, recommend bookings based on preferences and schedules, provide live translation services, and even offer video and audio highlight reels tailored to each individual.
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As an entrepreneur who has worked in the event booking space for years now, I’ve seen how events have evolved, especially over the last few years, and I’m excited to see the ways in which AI and data will push the space even further. However, I also know that there are plenty of pitfalls when it comes to collecting and storing that data. The Identity Theft Resource Center reports that the number of breaches was higher than ever last year, and according to a report from KPMG, consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about how their data is handled by companies. In order to succeed, it will be crucial for event organizers to properly balance the potential of AI with the importance of data security.
Effectively and ethically leveraging data collection and AI to create a better event experience
I firmly believe the future of event planning will include AI-driven personalization. However, this will only be accomplished by companies who not only know the most effective way to deploy the data they collect but how to make sure that data is safe and that audiences are comfortable with how that data is being used. Here are a few places to start:
Prioritize the experience over publicity
AI is a very buzzy technology, which makes it a tempting playground for marketers looking for a quick publicity boost. It’s true that you’d probably be able to generate some marketing copy by adding in a couple of basic AI functions onto your platform, like a chatbot or a transcription service, but you’d also be failing to tap into the true transformative power of this technology.
By prioritizing experience over publicity, on the other hand, you can have your cake and eat it, too. A truly data-driven experience will make events more memorable for your guests while also effectively communicating your brand’s chosen story and vision. Focus on the elements that help deepen relationships and provide real insight into the personal preferences of your attendees. These are features like attendee matchmaking, live translations, personalized itineraries based on schedules and preferences, and recaps tailored to what each attendee would consider relevant.
The esports industry is one that has been depending on AI heavily since its advent. From publishers like EA and Ubisoft producing games built with the help of AI to players battling against AI combatants to hone their skills, AI has now been designed to help esports viewers better understand the game as it’s happening, quickly replay, and view predictions of how the matches might end.
Data and AI: Don’t take away the human connection
Imagine, for a moment, going to an event that didn’t have any people present whose jobs were to make sure everything ran smoothly and everyone was being taken care of. It doesn’t sound like an event most people would want to attend. That scenario is not what AI is meant to bring about.
However, for example, AI could take away a language barrier to facilitate communication and human connection. Translators can be very hard to come by, but AI-powered voice recognition can help bridge the gap by translating your conversation into your preferred language. Wordly is one such software that can translate via AI to 15 different languages. AI translation is also ideal for hearing-impaired persons, as the AI can show the conversation as text on a screen accompanied by an audio translation.
AI should be viewed as a tool for people to use, not as their replacement. It can also be leveraged to automate certain event planning tasks and to enhance the experience of attendees. It can’t, however, take over for the people involved in the planning and execution of events. To deliver a personalized event people actually want to attend, you need to keep the focus on the human element.
Stay security conscious
This is perhaps the most important part of any effort that involves the collection of personal data. When consumers provide you with their information, they’re trusting you to keep it safe. Even one breach or misuse of that data is enough to squander any goodwill you may have.
Some demographic groups will be more accepting of data collection and AI-driven features than others. A younger audience, for instance, is not only probably better equipped to take advantage of AI-enhanced features, but they’re also more willing to share their data to do so. An older audience, on the other hand, might not be particularly interested in some of these features or might not have the technical knowledge to use them.
Certain groups may also be much leerier about giving up their personal data, as well. Even if every guest signs a form saying they consent to data collection, that doesn’t actually mean they’re comfortable with it. It’s up to you to know where each of your audiences stands on these issues.
One of the best protections in cybersecurity is limiting how much data is stored in the first place. If you aren’t storing it, it can’t be hacked or breached. The only data present in your primary systems should be the information you’re planning to use in the short term. Everything else you’ve collected should be siloed in offline systems. These disks should only be accessible with credentials that are separate from those used in your primary system. All data should also be encrypted both during transit and when stored.
Live events have always had the potential to create truly profound experiences that deepen people’s relationships and create lasting memories. With the help of data, that potential can be more readily tapped, delivering the experiences audiences want on a person-by-person basis. As long as organizations handle that data responsibly and take into account the particular needs and preferences of each audience, data-driven AI technology can offer guests truly edifying event experiences that will stay with them long after they’ve gone back home.
Gideon Kimbrell is cofounder/CEO of InList.com, and cofounder/owner of software development company Syragon.