The Future of PlanningJuly 6, 2023

How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Redefine the Future of Meetings and Events By
July 6, 2023

The Future of Planning

How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Will Redefine the Future of Meetings and Events

IFMM-Col2-Steinberg,Scott-110x140Hailed as the World’s Leading Business Strategist, award-winning strategic consultant and professional speaker Scott Steinberg is among today’s best-known trends experts and futurists, and the bestselling author of “Think Like a Futurist: The Next Normal;” “Make Change Work for You;” and “Fast >> Forward: How to Turbo-Charge Business, Sales, and Career Growth.” The creator of “The Future is Yours,” a training game for play at meetings and events, and the President and CEO of BIZDEV: The International Association for Business Development and Strategic Partnerships™, his website is

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are currently the hottest topic in technology today – and a subject that’s quickly catching fire amongst MICE industry leaders as well. But here’s something you may not be aware of: Despite their skyrocketing popularity, from Open AI’s ChatGPT to Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Bing, and Amazon’s offerings, what we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of coming digital transformation. Soon, meeting and event planners (not to mention attendees) won’t just be able to leverage smart and self-aware technology assistants to aid with tasks such as conference planning/organization, program design, and content development. They’ll also be able to use autonomous AI “agents” like AutoGPT – capable of self-directing themselves to perform multiple steps in sequences and complete complex tasks without much human prompting – to aid with every facet of MICE industry operations.

In effect, if you think the pace of change is rapid and rate of disruption is growing now, just wait until you see what the next few months will bring. After all, it’s no coincidence that each passing week seems to bring new AI-powered advancements, as we move towards the inevitable future: A world where you’ll soon be able to turn to an AI-based service for just about any professional need; activate and turn these solutions on or off with the flick of a switch as-needed; and one where AI routines are powerful enough to create their own new AI routines themselves.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. With demand for AI set to top $90 billion by 2025 alone, per UBS Wealth Management, keep this in mind: As a meetings and events pro, it’s important to consider what artificial intelligence can and cannot do for the moment. And, for that matter, in practical terms, how you might go about leveraging AI-powered tools to help boost accessibility, interest and attendance … not to mention put a growing number of current and future AI tools – which will only become increasingly available in a more user-friendly, cost-efficient and pay-as-you-go format going forward – to work in more productive fashion. After all, as we explain in new training and education game “The Future is Yours,” the next 10 years will bring more change than the prior 10,000 – and the best time to start preparing for this growing tidal wave of disruption is now.

A Quick Primer on AI and Machine Learning

Think of artificial intelligence tools as a form of smart technology that can be utilized for a variety of purposes; for example, analyzing online visits to your event’s website to see which topics and speakers most resonate with your target audience, or parsing ticket purchases to see which offers or pricing plans are most popular. Alternately, you might use these tools to monitor your tradeshow’s mobile app and see which sessions and tracks are getting the most interest, or track social media activity to determine which topics are currently trending in your industry. Machine learning, on the other hand, describes the ability of software programs to learn over time and get smarter with every interaction.

In any event, we’re currently experiencing a boom in the space for two reasons: (1) Many AI solutions can now hold conversations and spit out accurate answers to questions on-command like a human would and (2) Generative AI solutions (which can be used to generate original text and – in the case of tools like DALL-E and Midjourney – images, animations or video) are now reaching a critical tipping point in terms of performance. To wit: As things stand, you can currently ask many AI programs questions on a range of topics and get helpful responses in a matter of seconds. But, on top of this, because AI has also become way smarter in recent years, you can suddenly ask it to perform research, write articles and design creative assets so convincing that they could’ve been produced by actual working professionals as well. In fact, artificial intelligence tools have become so brainy that you can even ask them to spit out software code just by asking them questions, allowing you to design your own websites and applications, even if you’re not a computer programmer.

Want to know what subjects event attendees are currently buzzing about or that they most prioritize lately? Curious what the best destinations are to hold a medical symposium or all-hands meeting at during the first weeks of fall or winter? Need write-ups for a series of talks, panels or guest keynotes, or original illustrations and marketing copy to go with a brochure you’re designing? Suddenly, all you have to do is grab an AI tool and ask. And we’re not talking about having to restrict yourself to simple queries either. You can literally ask these programs for help designing your marketing plans and budgets, or finding local catering or transportation options, and get useful answers in seconds.

Just one catch: Most of these tools need to be trained on millions of data points and interactions, so that they have a frame of reference to draw upon – a process which takes considerably time. And some, like ChatGPT, are based on information that may be several years old at this point. However, as technology continues to grow and advance, and data sets expand, you can see where the trend is eventually headed – a world where every exchange is more informed and contextualized, and one of growingly customized and tailored attendee experiences.

Ways to Use AI and ML to Build Your Business

But enough with background and theory: You’re doubtlessly wondering – how can all these futuristic advancements help you grow your profits, operate more cost-efficiently, and improve event experience and attendance? As it turns out, opportunities here are as manifold as they are mind-blowing. For example, just off the cuff, you might use the power of AI and machine learning to:

  • Aid with event planning and research, including vendor and destination selection
  • Keep up with changing rules, regulations and compliance protocols
  • Brainstorm new topics, ideas, and formats for meeting and event sessions
  • Determine unique sales points and how to best differentiate and message your event’s benefits and upsides
  • Craft advertising, marketing and promotions plans
  • Create mobile, online, social media and marketing copy or content
  • Identify guest speakers, virtual presenters and thought leaders to work with
  • Get a better handle on potential event costs, revenues and budgets
  • Analyze and identify key insights based on data and information that you’re collecting from attendees
  • Design presentations, write speeches and summarize event learnings and takeaways

For instance: Need a helping hand generating content to fill all your online marketing channels, publications and social media feeds? You can ask AI tools to create articles, blog posts, website copy and product brochures, or summarize longer pieces of content into social-media friendly write-ups. Looking for a cost-efficient way to answer attendees’ questions or field customer service queries? You can have smart software personalities (aka “chatbots”) that are intelligent enough to pass as human handle them. Hoping to boost audience engagement? You can leverage automated e-email newsletter programs to quickly populate pre-programmed mailings with relevant articles and data, then analyze open and response rates to improve send times and mailing frequencies. In short, the sky’s the limit.

Put simply, you can now tap AI tools to help with everything from coming up with potential event concepts to designing meeting tracks and programming for educational certification programs. Alternatively, you can ask them for help thinking up a list of questions to put to guest speakers – or even which guest speakers that you should be inviting. From helping to identify the right destination at which to host your programs to helping you know how much you should be spending on A/V setups, travel, and lodging, options are endless here – and they’ll only continue to grow going forward.

Bottom Line: For MICE Leaders, It’s a Whole New High-Tech Ballgame

As a futurist, keynote speaker and consultant for over 1,500 brands, I’m often asked: What’s the future of AI – and how will it transform the world we live in? The answer is simple: Looking ahead, this technology becomes (a) more ubiquitous, (b) more user-friendly and (c) more capable, even as it fades into the background and quietly integrates more deeply with every facet of our work and life experience. To put things in perspective: Going forward, you won’t type in search engine queries like “best eco-friendly destinations in North America.” You’ll ask questions like: “My event budget is $50,000, and I’m looking for a nearby location to hold an eco-friendly, regional escape for 500 executives at a life sciences company in May of 2024 that offers all sorts of fun and cost-affordable activities and dining options – where should I hold my get-together? Also: Please provide me with three top options, and how I might expect to break out a budget for each.”

Implications are both profound and inspiring for meeting and events leaders — and will transform the fundamental way in which we interact with technology. After all, if applications and websites are capable of being coded just by asking questions going forward, we won’t even need software engineers to help create IT solutions for conferences and tradeshows … we’ll need “prompt” engineers who know how to ask the right questions instead. In any event, if you think the last few years have been head-spinning in this business? Get ready for the supercharged next decade. | AC&F |

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