Today we had a meeting with a potential customer. The discussions proceeded well, but towards the end, we realised we had yet to ask how the potential customer had found us. So, after the talks had come to a natural stop, we asked: "How did you find us?". The answer came swiftly: "Through ChatGPT". They then elaborated on how they had used it to search for potential online tools for hotels and how our name had popped up.
While we were a bit baffled, to say the least, we immediately thought that this marked a start of a new era. Hotel and venue owners had typically found us through face-to-face contact or search engines, but this was new. We started to think about how this could affect us now and in the future.
For those who don't know ChatGPT, it's a large language model capable of generating human-like responses to natural language inputs. In other words, it's a human-like chatbot that provides answers using sophisticated artificial intelligence. It's the quickest-adopted online tool, spawning a new generation of tools through its API.
What is going to change
What does AI development mean to us and other businesses in the meetings and events industry? The industry, known to be slow to adopt new technologies, is about to change faster than we had thought. This change will affect most, if not all, areas of business. This could mean significant changes in how we work with:
- Booking experience
- Booking handling
- Analysis automation and interpretation
- Recommendations and tips for supplier and the booker
- Customer communication
- Billing automation
This is not an exhaustive list by any means but a mere glimpse of the areas that could be affected soon. We're continuously exploring the areas we could bring more value to our customers by using this new technology, and we believe you can too.
How to benefit today
Some artificial intelligence use cases might sound like a science fiction movie, but AI already helps you in many tasks today. Let's review some examples.
It might seem obvious, but using AI to create personalised content that caters to the requirements of meeting bookers searching for the perfect event space or meeting room could increase organic traffic to our channel partners. We possess a wealth of Meetings & Events-related data, and it's feasible to use that data programmatically. For example, we're using Grammarly to keep our communication consistent, and with their newly released generative AI tool, we're further exploring the possibilities.
Our software development team already uses tools like GitHub Copilot and ChatGPT to help debug, refactor and write code. We're also close to using AI to help us with end-to-end testing and other tedious tasks that traditionally have taken significant human effort to do correctly.
Forecasting conversion potential
Our tech stack is a treasure trove of data, and with AI, we can identify patterns that help us forecast the likelihood of a meeting request becoming a confirmed booking. We can also determine which enquiries are at risk of being lost if the sales department doesn't reach out to potential customers. Additionally, our AI tools can warn us of confirmed bookings that may be cancelled, enabling us to take proactive measures to prevent such situations.
Recently, several companies have started experimenting with AI-powered communication tools, such as chatbots and automatic emailing systems. The better the models get, the better service we can provide. We're yet to try this in real life, but with the current pace of development, we suspect it will happen sooner than later.
While the positive possibilities seem endless, that's only one side of the story. As it turns out, AI development also has potential downsides, which we'll discuss next.
What if something goes wrong
AI development is advancing so fast that some of the highest-profile people on Earth, led by Elon Musk, are trying to hold it back. Why? Because they fear that the speed at which AI models are developed and trained could lead to catastrophic scenarios.
As Yuval Harari, the best-selling author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, put it: "It [AI] will also change the nature of decision-making as decisions are gradually transferred from humans to algorithms. This might be the greatest revolution in human history, but it is not guaranteed to end well."
These grim scenarios are not novel, though. After reading Tim Urban's two-part series on artificial intelligence on Wait But Why in 2015 (I highly recommend reading everything from Tim!), I was convinced that AI should be developed transparently and in a contained environment.
We live in a genuinely fascinating era never seen before. That's why we try our best to embrace the change and prepare to improve our products and services with the new tools this technology provides us. Only time will tell how fast the change will be and where it will lead the industry.