We are living in a digitalized world that creates many opportunities for businesses. Digital technologies are transforming human relations, interactions and experiences. Although the great potential of artificial intelligence (AI) in the service industries is predicted, the concrete influence of AI on customer experiences is still little understood. Therefore, this research paper explored the impact of AI on event experiences and offers a practical guideline for event planners on how to implement AI now and in the future
What does AI mean to us now and how will it shape the future?
Today, we witness AI on the market in many forms and shapes. These include robots, virtual assistants, and self-driving cars, becoming part of our everyday lives. Through this development, businesses and customers can already take advantage of the technology in its early stages. How will AI improve over the next years? Will AI be able to surpass human intelligence, and in which industries can it be applied?
AI can be described as the science of creating intelligent machines. While the initial seeds of AI can be dated back to the early 1980s, it is clear that today AI has achieved progress across multiple industries. In fact, it continues to perform better and further develop. For instance, AI has been implemented in medicine, manufacturing, service fields, and the tourism context.
With ever-expanding abilities, AI has a wide range of possibilities to assist businesses, increase efficiency and reduce costs. It makes human lives easier, enhances experiences and creates added value. These capabilities turn AI into a promising resource for experiences, especially when it matters to get to know customers, track user behaviours, use data in real-time, make suggestions and offer superior value propositions in-context and in real-time – all scenarios, which are particularly relevant for designing high-quality events.
Among the world’s industries, the service, tourism and events industries have always been in the front row when it comes down to digital advancement. For instance, large-scale events have used various forms of ICTs, such as online ticketing solutions, event apps and wearable devices to engage customers. Hence, where lays the potential of using AI for events?
Connecting the dots: AI, event experiences and value co-creation
The events industry is known to dynamically embrace changes in the environment to meet and succeed attendees’ expectations, and to deliver outstanding experiences. Nowadays, events are experiences that are co-created and personalised.
In taking a look at the evolution of event technologies, Solaris (2018) categorises four waves of development: (1) online registration and ticketing, (2) event mobile apps, and (3) engagement technology (polls, apps, live engagement).
The first three waves already reached the status of experience commodity, and represent a “norm”, whereas the fourth creates a new ecosystem by adding (4) Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These new technological players are predicted to not only revitalise and change some aspects of the previous waves but also create entirely new possibilities for event experience design.
AI is already being used in form of chatbots, event apps, predictions, virtual concierges (suggestions, reminders), instant translation apps and personalisation. These industry examples display the great potential of AI in the future, and in turn, underline the need for its investigation.
Methodology: A scenario technique approach
The goal of scenario planning is to predict multiple uncertain futures. In this qualitative study, data was gathered through six interactive focus groups. These comprised event attendees, AI experts, event practitioners, and service and event management academics. Finally, the scenario development process followed, including five phases from preparation to scenario analysis and completion.
Three interesting future scenarios emerged, showing how AI either co-creates or co-destructs value in events. These range from highly personalised event experiences, fully automated through AI to partly supported experiences and experiences where AI might hinder the overall enjoyment of the event experience. The three scenarios are put into place covering the entire pre, during and post-event experience (see the article for all scenarios in detail).
- ‘A Personalised Event Experience’ (value co-created)
- ‘A Suspicious Event experience’ (value no-created/co-destructed)
- ‘Some Badly Developed Systems’ (value co-destructed)
The scenarios show attendees will have experiences characterised by a high level of personalisation through constant assistance. AI serves as a game changer in that it becomes a key autonomous resource creating a new level of human-to-non-human interaction. This human-centric ecosystem recognises touchpoints in all life domains where AI could be used as a supporting tool. For events business ecosystems, this means that the customer journey and value chain shift into the life domains of potential customers.
How can event organisers implement AI as a valuable resource?
From a practical viewpoint, the study creates three realistic scenarios of what the future of events could look like. Event planners can look into the study to understand how AI can help with decision-making, implementation and experience design. This study helps businesses predict the use of AI, and thereby eliminates two of the most common errors, namely the under-prediction and over-prediction of change.
The events industry is expected to be one of the business environments in which AI has great potential and we already witness ‘sprinkles of AI innovation’ on the global landscape.
Neuhofer, B., Magnus, B., & Celuch, K. (2021). The impact of artificial intelligence on event experiences: a scenario technique approach. Electronic Markets, 31(3), pp: 601-617.
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