Artificial Intelligence for Meeting & Event Planners
By Beth Buehler
It’s been hard to keep up with the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and a challenge to plug the technology into specific career fields. Last month, I attended a breakout session on AI at the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference and found the knowledge and tips provided for tourism marketing fascinating and wondered about artificial intelligence for meeting and event planners.
A conversation with two Colorado-based planners shines a light on how they are learning and embracing artificial intelligence. Stephanie Sadri, CMP, director of meetings and events for the American Craft Spirits Association, and Jeanette Stensgaard, MBA, CMP, HMCC, chief brilliance officer of ShePlans Co., shared their insights and used AI to help answer these questions and adapt their headshot photos.
How are you using AI for meeting and event planning work?
Stephanie Sadri: I’m using AI for tasks that I can do but may be time-consuming. This includes comparing lists, creating email templates, generating agendas, and helping me solidify ideas into a definitive plan. Additionally, AI assists me in sifting through data and feedback to consolidate information more efficiently. Essentially, AI serves as my assistant, handling routine tasks and information processing, freeing up my time for more strategic aspects of event planning.
Jeanette Stensgaard: When it comes to meeting and event planning, AI has been nothing short of a game changer for me. It’s like having a secret weapon in my back pocket. I’ve harnessed AI for a multitude of tasks, from deciphering data trends and forecasting to giving our event attendees a truly personalized experience. … AI doesn’t stop at being my behind-the-scenes superstar. It’s also my trusty sidekick when it comes to handling all those administrative tasks like scheduling and registrations, making the mundane look effortless.
Now, I’m diving headfirst into the AI realm of engagement and communication. Chatbots and AI-driven apps are next on my list, poised to facilitate real-time interactions, answer questions and deliver crucial information. It’s like having an extra pair of hands to ensure everyone is on the same page.
What AI tools are you tapping into?
SS: I’m currently using several AI tools in my work. ChatGPT is powered by natural language processing and can assist in generating text, answering questions and providing information. PCMA Spark is an AI-powered event-planning platform that offers features like attendee engagement, content personalization and data analysis. Midjourney helps pull out my creative side, visualize an idea and put words into a picture. Aftershoot helps me sift through the hundreds of photos I have after an event and pinpoint the ones that may be best for marketing.
JS: I’ve harnessed Chat AI for email generation, giving me back so much bandwidth! Even my current headshot is AI-generated. I’m also on the lookout for virtual assistants to supercharge my productivity and am looking into chatbots. Currently, I’m head over heels for the Zoom plug-ins that whip up meeting notes and action items with AI finesse. Plus, I’ve dabbled in some AI-powered art generators, like the cool ones at playgroundai.com and dezgo.com. Admittedly, they’re paid services, but even the limited free versions have proven pretty nifty.
PCMA’s Project Spark is my newest obsession! With its impressive capabilities, I rely on it for seamless report generation post event. I just input attendee demographics, and voila, it dishes out analytics. Project Spark allows me to send a post-meeting wrap-up report right away and take a well-deserved break after the exhausting task of orchestrating what appears to be a flawless event.
How did you learn to use AI?
SS: My understanding of AI was significantly enhanced through my participation in the MPI Emerging Leaders event. This experience exposed me to the practical applications of AI in event planning. Additionally, I learned through trial and error, taking a hands-on approach to experimenting with AI tools. My approach of “playing around in the AI sphere” has been valuable in my learning journey.
JS: I kicked off my AI journey by diving into online workshops tailored for event planning. It’s all about continuous self-learning and rubbing shoulders with my tech-savvy colleagues. And yes, I admit, I’ve also been known to squeeze some AI knowledge out of TikTok and YouTube videos. But really, it’s just been jumping in headfirst and trying it out! Hands-on experience has been my compass through this AI adventure.
When did you start integrating AI into your work and why?
SS: I started integrating AI into my event planning work in the last couple of months. The driving force behind this decision was the recognition of the value of time in my busy schedule. By implementing AI, I’ve been able to recapture valuable time and streamline my operations. As a one-person team on a small staff, every minute saved is essential in managing the many aspects of event planning efficiently.
JS: My AI journey began approximately six months ago, and let me tell you, it’s been a wild ride! The industry’s insatiable appetite for personalization and data-driven decision-making was impossible to ignore … So, I ventured into the world of AI.
What AI tips do you have for other meeting and event planners?
SS: My advice for fellow event planners is twofold. First, I suggest being cautious about what information I entrust to AI tools, particularly when it comes to confidential data. This reflects a prudent approach to data security and privacy. Second, don’t hesitate to use AI as an assistant for certain tasks. I view AI as a valuable tool to aid in specific functions but acknowledge the importance of understanding its limitations, especially in terms of confidentiality and sensitive information handling.
JS: Scope out where AI can really shine in your event canvas, don’t be shy about rolling up your sleeves and experimenting … You can find all kinds of resources on YouTube, TikTok and Facebook once the algorithm starts picking up your hunger to learn more about the world of AI. Just find a couple programs you’re interested in and play with them.
Any AI tips for suppliers?
SS: It’s essential to be careful about the client information you put into AI tools, as some details might be proprietary and you might not even realize it. AI can be a powerful asset for creating timelines, menu ideas and event flows, which can save time and enhance the service provided. By embracing AI support, you can gain a competitive edge over other suppliers and offer a full-service experience that might have been time-prohibitive in the past.
Additionally, using AI for tasks like email campaigns and proposal letters may help you think outside the box and stand out. For instance, Midjourney is an excellent tool for creating visual representations of events, enabling you to offer clients a clear vision of their event, such as a ballroom with white linens, pink up-lights, and purple balloons.
JS: Dive into predictive analytics to anticipate demand and tailor your services accordingly. … AI-powered chatbots are your 24/7 customer service allies, and streamline your operations by exploring AI for inventory management and logistics. Consider AI-driven pricing models; they’re your path to optimizing profitability.
How are you seeing AI impact the meetings and events industry?
SS: It’s helping us think more creatively and articulate our needs and desires more effectively. I’ve noticed a shift in how we approach education in events, including but not limited to speaker bios and facilitator questions, which can lead to more engaging and interactive sessions. Moreover, AI is enabling event planners to analyze surveys and Q&A questions more effectively, helping them fine-tune events from educational content to the timing of registration openings based on attendee preferences and behavior.
JS: AI has transformed our data game. We’re no longer sifting through mountains of spreadsheets … and it also streamlines processes like nobody’s business. … Now we can focus on what truly matters: creating unforgettable experiences and optimizing resource allocation, helping us reduce our event carbon footprint.
When did you start seeing AI show up in the industry?
SS: I’ve observed a noticeable increase in the presence of artificial intelligence in the events industry over the past six months. The adoption of AI tools and solutions has been on the rise, and it’s becoming more integrated into various aspects of event planning and management. This rapid evolution highlights the industry’s recognition of AI’s potential to streamline processes and enhance the quality of events.
JS: Artificial intelligence started strutting its stuff in the events world about two years ago and really started shining in the last six months. But after some research, it turns out AI was laying down its roots in the meetings and events industry about six or seven years ago.
Any predictions for AI’s future?
SS: Unlike trends that come and go, AI’s influence is growing steadily. It’s akin to the internet’s emergence, where some initially resisted only to be left behind as it transformed various industries. AI’s continued growth and impact are inevitable, and those who adapt and incorporate it into their workflows will be better positioned for success in the long run.
JS: I think we’ll see artificial intelligence becoming even more intuitive … and I could really see AI diving headfirst into creating immersive experiences that’ll blow our minds. Attendees won’t just attend; they’ll get lost in a world of possibilities. And, when it comes to sustainability, AI will lead the charge in making events eco-friendlier.
Anything else you want to add?
SS: I wrote out all my answers and then put them into ChatGPT to show a point. Still had to do some tweaking but this just shows the power of artificial intelligence and how you can mold it to elevate what you are doing.
JS: AI is not a replacement for human expertise but a powerful tool that complements our skills. The key is to leverage AI while maintaining the human touch in event planning. Collaboration between event planners, suppliers and AI developers is essential for the industry’s continued growth. Together, we can create innovative and unforgettable experiences. … Keep exploring AI’s potential and don’t be afraid to experiment with new technologies and ideas.
Top Photo: Todd Mitchem discussed “Embracing and Leveraging AI: How Business and Individuals Can Thrive in the Workplace of the Future” at a Destination Colorado Meetings membership meeting in April.
Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 18 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and was on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events this summer. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.