2020s: how AI will change the face of association meetings

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Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

AMI technology writer Corbin Ball examines how Artificial Intelligence will transform the way we meet...

Technology comes in waves. The 1990s was the decade that brought us email, the 2000s belonged to the internet, and the 2010s was all about mobile. Artificial Intelligence (AI), in case you were wondering, is what will come to define the 2020s. Heard it all before? Sure, when robots are wheeled out at trade shows they  invariably show they have a mind of their own - by not doing as they are told! But, these embarrassing hiccups aside, AI has already made significant inroads into our lives.

Voice recognition systems such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are now a relatively common presence in our lives. Tesla and other companies are bringing autonomous driving into reality. Smart devices are making huge headway into our homes with smart thermostats, lighting, home security systems, door locks and much more seeing substantial growth. And, in subtle ways, AI is transforming marketing, medical research, entertainment delivery, shipping and delivery, and much more.

AI is also changing how people meet. Here's how:

Better simultaneous interpretation at lower cost:

Wordly is a simultaneous interpretation system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) voice recognition to instantly translate an event presentation into fifteen languages. All that is required is a patch from the sound system into the internet-based application. Attendees access the information via their mobile devices using Wi-Fi. These services are at a small fraction of the cost of providing human interpreters, sound booths, and audio headsets onsite. Although it will likely not replace the need for human translators for very high-end events, this opens up the opportunities to provide simultaneous translation for a much broader range of events.

Registration using facial recognition:


Facial recognition is a rapidly developing field. Airlines are beginning to use this for boarding. iPhone users unlock their phones; hotels in China are using it for room check-in and more. Companies, such as Zenus, are using AI-driven facial recognition to speed up onsite badge pick-up while improving security.  As an attendee registers online, they include a photo (from a variety of sources including LinkedIn). Upon arrival at the event, cameras in the queue line recognizes the registrant and prints out the badge automatically. This speeds the process (about 7 seconds per person) while increasing security (your face is your signature).

Tracking attendee numbers, demographics and mood:


AI can also be used to anonymously track a range of attendee demographics. TrackMany uses iPhone cameras as facial recognition data collectors to provide highly reliable anonymous estimates of the number of attendees, their age, their gender, their sentiment, the amount of time spent (dwell time), and what they are looking at in an exhibit display or other event area. To do so anonymously eliminates the concern about privacy intrusion.

Another example is the Zenus analytics camera. This system focuses on anonymous facial recognition to determine a range of demographics of an audience watching a presentation. This system can count thousands of attendees (event in relatively low-light conditions), their sentiment, age, gender, and level of attention.

AI matchmaking:


One good contact made at an event can often be worth the price the entire trip! AI-powered matchmaking tools, such as Grip, can analyze registration data, social media feeds, surveys and other sources to determine quality matches for attendees, exhibitors and VIPs. Pre-event meeting scheduling, badge scanning insights, and extensive analytics can be included. Personalized recommendations to attendees on which sessions to attend will improve attendee ROI.

Personalization content distribution:

Rasa.io is an example of a content aggregator using AI to communicate with association members and other groups with  online content. It will remember what a user clicks on in e-newsletters and will highlight and prioritize future newsletters based on these clicks. It will also provide links to related sources. So, in a sense, every newsletter subscriber receives a customized newsletter based on their interests. Rasa claims a doubling of the open rate and a quadrupling of the click-through rate when using these products.

These are just a few ways AI will become an indispensable tool for managing events and improving event-related processes. The major changes are yet to come!

James Lancaster
Written By
James Lancaster

AMI editor James Lancaster is a familiar face in the meetings industry and international association community. Since joining AMI in 2010, he has gained a reputation for asking difficult questions and getting lost in convention centres. Proofer, podcaster, and panellist - in his spare time, James likes to walk, read, listen to music, and drink beer.

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