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Artificial Intelligence (AI) & ChatGPT in the MICE Industry – Valuable Asset that can not be replaced
Summary of the blog post
Discover how Artificial Intelligence is changing the travel industry and why it can never replace that human touch. Learn more about its implications for Destination Management Organization and Event Planners with valuable insights from an expert in the field.
It's no wonder why Morgan Stanley hails this new wave of technology as a potential $6 trillion opportunity: AI will totally transform everything even the MICE industry predicts scientists and AI Experts- but what exactly is it?
To gain a deeper understanding of its workings and anticipate the potential changes that Destination Management Organizations and Event Planners may encounter in the future, visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office made the decision to seek insights from an expert in the field: Prof. Dr. Nakeema Steffbauer, a Berlin-based software delivery consultant who has been driving corporate digital transformation in both Europe and America for 15+ years.
In this article we will explore all aspects of ChatGPT & AI - starting from basic definitions and ending with valuable insights for our readers interested in getting involved with travel industry development now or in the future.
What exactly are ChatGPT and AI Prof. Prof. Dr. Nakeema Steffbauer?
"AI" or Artificial Intelligence is a bit of a misnomer, as it refers to algorithms that are trained on large data sets and taught to very rapidly identify patterns in the data. Once identified, those patterns can be applied, in a calculated way, to new data inputs. The result is data extrapolation, usually in the form of recommendations or "predictions", like which book or sweater you might be more likely to buy, based on what other, similar buyers have purchased.
ChatGPT is an algorithmic system trained on a wealth of text sources from the internet (we don't yet know exactly which) that produces text strings in response to prompts. It uses a high-speed capability to predict (with a high level of confidence) what text is most likely to follow whatever precedes it. It can thus mimic different categorized styles of writing (and writers), which is why you can prompt it for a text "in the style of" some well-known author, and get back strings of text that resemble their word choice, phrasing, etc. There is no intelligence there, but a very well trained text-prediction algorithm can come across as if a thinking, "intelligent" entity is behind the text it outputs.
What are some potential uses for AI-based technologies?
There are many different specialty areas which the term "AI" covers, among them computer vision, Natural Language Processing (NLP), and process automation. Computer vision is used when facial recognition or biometric scanning of faces, irises, etc. is in question. NLP involves processing written or spoken language and deriving patterns and predictive strings of words, based on analysis of written and/or spoken conversations. Process automation is any series of steps that are accelerated by algorithmic execution like, for instance, the auto-filling of forms, or the scanning and automated transcription of payment receipts.
How might AI and chatbots affect the MICE sector, in your opinion?
AI chatbots could be one way to tailor historical tours of the city and its attractions to specific topics of interest for visitors. And generative AI imaging algorithms could be used to re-create the former Berlin landscape, or a future one, based on specific architectural or environmental prompts. Conference attendees or even tourists could view these representations in real-time, next to the city of today. Since AI systems draw upon historical text, image, or video data sets to create new, extrapolated content; these immersive approaches could help to bring the city’s rich history - and its possible future - to the forefront.
What are some of the difficulties related to Artificial Intelligence?
The main difficulty is that the data used to train algorithmic systems also serves as the basis for future decisions. This means that patterns identified in historical data sets are the basis for future correlations and recommendations that an algorithm learns to make, even when given newer data to work with. Say, for instance, that terabytes of data showing the movements of convention visitors led to a pattern being identified between promotional item theft and men wearing overcoats. The installation of computer vision algorithms (also called "AI") could lead to convention visitors categorized as male who wear overcoats being flagged as potential thieves and recommended for additional scrutiny, checking of their pockets and bags, etc. That is one example of how simple "AI" algorithms can be: it also illustrates how past outcomes strongly influence future ones. If something or someone is labeled as suspicious (or criminal) in historical data sets, an algorithm that is trained on that data takes those labels as "ground truth" and applies them to future data collected.
How can DMOs like visitBerlin and event planners use AI without compromising their privacy?
The safest way to leverage "AI" in a public-facing context is to look for cumbersome or inconvenient processes that could be automated to improve the customer experience. Could automatic translation algorithms help more visitors to experience events in their preferred language? DeepL, for instance, is a Germany-based AI company that is at the forefront of text-based automatic translation. Would translation algorithms or text-to-speech algorithms help to create more accessible experiences for visitors to Berlin?
How can service providers improve their offerings to protect against AI exposure?
The main difference between an AI- or chatbot-generated service and real people is flexibility: automated systems do not allow for the spontaneity of a live tour guide who can share anecdotes or recommendations based on lived experience. Therefore, service providers should find ways to amplify the human interactions they have with visitors to the city, whether it is the difference between having a live bike tour guide or a chatbot, or the difference between attending a Berlinale event with a translation service or with designated individuals who speak your language to help you navigate. When I toured Petra, I had the option to hear a recorded audio tour, or to speak with a live guide: I chose the human option, and I am so glad I did, because they brought the city to life in a way a non-human, non-Bedouin, non-Jordanian never could. I am certain that visitors to Berlin would feel the same.
Finally, how would you describe Berlin in your own words?
Berlin is the place where I have felt most at home since I left New York City. It is a place where you can dress casually, experience the historical past and the future, be as anonymous as you like, and still find community with people from all over the world.
Personal relationships and customer service that cannot be replicated by machines
In conclusion, the advancements in AI have the potential to greatly benefit various industries. However, it is crucial not to overlook the value of human interaction. The travel and MICE industry heavily relies on personal relationships and exceptional customer service that cannot be replicated by machines. People should embrace AI, but not let it replace the invaluable direct relationship between people, customers, employers and so forth.
As technology improves, it is important to keep in mind that it will never take precedence over heart-felt personal relationships. To maximize its potential, Artificial Intelligence should act as an aid to personnel - making processes more efficient while providing the cushion of safety and comfort that personal contact ensures. By adopting this approach, AI can truly become an invaluable asset to the industry.
About Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer
Dr. Nakeema Stefflbauer is a software delivery expert with over 15 years' experience leading corporate digital transformations in the US and Europe. She is the founder and CEO of FrauenLoop, a Berlin, Germany-based computer programming network for EU resident, immigrant and refugee women. A sought-after international speaker on the impact of algorithmic systems on marginalized groups, Dr. Stefflbauer is also an active angel investor for Atomico who invests in tech- and AI-driven software companies in Europe.
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