AI in event planning and marketing | Horizon Team 2024

How to Harness AI in Event Planning and Marketing

Supercharge your 2024 event with help from Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI increases in popularity with more companies utilising AI tools to support their work, especially within the events industry.

In the ever-evolving world of event planning, innovation plays a crucial part when delivering exceptional experiences to attendees and staying ahead of the competition. One of the groundbreaking technologies that has taken the event industry by storm is artificial intelligence (AI).

From pre-planning to post-event follow-up, AI is set to play a greater role in the management and execution of events. Ultimately, saving time, freeing up energy for more creativity and giving the ability to refine and improve processes. All of this helps you to plan and execute great events, delivering increased delegate satisfaction, data, and meaningful feedback.

It’s such an exciting time for technology, but it can also be daunting; so, we’re here to help you answer the questions you may have been asking: What is AI? What are the benefits of AI? And how can we utilise AI when planning and marketing our event?

What is AI?

AI describes the ‘intelligence’ of machines. Computer scientists have developed software programming capable of independent learning from available data, combining powerful search functions, mathematical optimisation, logic, statistics, and more. This allows AI programs to answer complex questions and make conclusions using real-world evidence.

Conversational, generative AI

AI comes in the easy access form of AI chatbots that offer conversational, generative AI. These programs use machine learning and natural language processes to simulate human interactions, understand speech and generate human-like replies. These chatbots have been around for decades, however, the launch in 2022 of ChatGPT by the company OpenAI has popularised generative AI, which has become powerful enough to produce text, images, and even music on demand from input prompts.

Creating your strategy: AI in event planning and marketing

When it comes to planning and marketing an event, we’ve got some great tips to help you and your team take advantage of AI.

The following are just some of the ways that AI is being deployed to support teams by helping them to speed up mundane processes, offer inspiration, support innovation and free up time to channel into event delivery:

  • Streamline administrative tasks: sending invitations, managing response and registration
  • Optimise schedules
  • Create checklists, agendas, and social content
  • Personalise experiences for delegates
  • Enhance delegate support via virtual assistants
  • Spark ideas for creative innovation
  • Analyse data
  • Save time and money by automating routine data tasks

We also recently published a blog ‘How to plan an event’ which has some handy tips on getting started with event planning that we hope you find helpful, too.

Using AI to create an event schedule.

For any event, the strategy begins with an over-arching schedule. We asked Microsoft’s CoPilot, accessed via their Edge search browser, to create a basic schedule for an event…

AI Prompt:

Create a basic checklist for a 1-day dental innovation event at Horizon Leeds for 50 delegates. Schedule 3 x 1-hour main speaking events with 30-minute breakout sessions, lunch, and refreshment breaks.

AI Response:

Sure, here’s a basic checklist for your 1-day dental innovation event at Horizon Leeds:

  1. Pre-Event Planning:
  • Define the event’s objectives and goals
  • Create a budget plan
  1. Venue and Logistics:
  • Confirm booking with Horizon Leeds
  • Check the availability of necessary facilities (e.g. audio-visual equipment)
  • Plan for meals and refreshments – check if the venue has a catering option? We do at Horizon Leeds!
  1. Event Agenda:
  • Schedule 3 main speaking events, each lasting 1 hour
  • Plan 30-minute breakout sessions after each main event
  • Allocate time for lunch and refreshment breaks
  1. Registration:
  • Set up an online registration system
  • Send out invitations to potential delegates
  • Keep track of registered attendees
  1. Promotion:
  • Develop a marketing and promotion plan
  • Use social media and emails for promotion
  1. On-the-Day Event Management:
  • Ensure all facilities and equipment are set up
  • Manage registration desk
  • Coordinate with speakers and manage the event flow
  1. Post-Event Activities:
  • Send out thank you notes to speakers and attendees
  • Send a post-event survey
  • Evaluate the event against its objectives and goals

As you can see the response is quite basic, which can be improved by putting more detail in the prompting question and following up the response with further requests.

AI-assisted research can also help you optimise your event schedule, and analyse factors of speaker popularity, attendee preferences, popular content, and the most engaging topics. It can be used to ensure you don’t forget an element and can help to spark ideas and innovation around events.

There are tools to support smooth online registrations and personalised event agendas, networking recommendations and opportunities. However, you can also create your own suite of AI support for the planning and marketing of your event. Below is a list of popular platforms for you to use:

These are just a selection with more coming to market all the time. And how about creating an original audio ‘sting’ or theme music for your event?

Discover Soundraw for AI-generated music. If you are planning on having original music for your event, theme, or background, perhaps Soundraw can help. No licensing is required, and you can create an original track by telling the programme what you’re looking for. The AI tool works to your brief to produce an original sound – very useful if you have a tight budget yet want to create a specific atmosphere.

Despite growing popularity and its many claims, AI may return flawed information, so just be careful to double-check the information. Here’s a good example:

The quick AI creation of speaker or delegate bios from using their LinkedIn profiles sounds like a no-brainer, but beware. We tried this as an experiment and even when we put the person’s LinkedIn link, together with the required word count, into the AI prompt, we often got rubbish back. The number of similar names on the platform meant it merged profiles, leading to misleading information. A good lesson, if one were needed, to always check and verify data and get bios signed off personally.

Using AI for content creation

Anyone who has spent time marketing an event knows the hours it takes putting together the marketing plan including comms such as email marketing, social media, delegate guides and the post event survey to name a few. So, it pays to take advantage of this emerging technology to do some of that heavy lifting and free up time to focus on more creative tasks and person to person delivery.

It’s important to remember that content is key. The communications we produce to market an event must be creative, accurate, appropriate, and high quality, so how can we adapt our working styles to include and benefit from AI?

AI tools can help by analysing information from previous, similar events; they can deliver insights on key trends, thus giving you a head start when it comes to developing your marketing ideas and campaigns. The tools can also help identify the best channels to use and what content and topics proved to be most popular, helping to take out the guesswork when deciding where to start.

Using AI to support your event marketing content generation

The most popular current generative text-producing AI chatbots have different strengths and include OpenAI’s ChatGTP, Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s CoPilot (which uses the ChatGTP model) and Jasper Chat. As we explored earlier in the blog, there are many more emerging with different focuses: images, speech, music etc, so do your research on the one that will work best for you.

Train your assistant

Just as you would with a human assistant, the quality training or input, the better the results. For consistently useful output, create a brief that you can refer to for detailed information by focusing on:

  1. Details, details, details. Include as much as possible, venue, unique qualities, the date, season, number of delegates, industry, and event focus. You can even feed it examples of material you like and request, ‘in the style of’ responses
  2. Tell it what you want to achieve
  3. Set the tone of your communications, messages, and social media by telling it what style you require, conversational, humorous, professional, formal – combine styles and try different combination
  4. Check responses for accuracy, all facts and statistics should be verifiable and watch out for unintended bias
  5. Polish with your house style. This is very important. Make it your own. Always check and polish any content to ensure it reflects your style of communication

Here’s another simple example. Many organisations use email as part of their marketing strategy, but when and how often is the best time to get in touch? We asked Microsoft’s AItool CoPilot what it thought:

AI prompt:

How many times should I send out an email inviting someone to an event?

AI response:

The frequency of sending event invitation emails can vary depending on the nature of the event and your audience. However, here are some general guidelines based on industry practices from Eventbrite:

  1. Initial Announcement: Most events begin their email promotions one to three months in advance1
  2. Frequency: According to a survey, 30% of event creators send four to five emails per event1Some send the most emails in the month leading up to their event, with 43% sending an email a week during that period1About 25% of event creators send three emails in total to promote each event, while 22% send six or more emails in total1
  3. Content Variation: It’s recommended to mix up promotional and educational content across your sends, so you’re giving people more reasons to attend your event other than “buy tickets now”1

Remember, the key is to stay top of mind without being annoying. It’s always a good idea to test different frequencies and monitor your metrics to see what works best for your audience. 

The above AI response is from Eventbrite, which is where AI sourced the information. This is a good way for you to ensure it is reputable and appropriate.

In combination with expert knowledge of your event, speakers, and delegates, build AI in early on when researching your event audience. Some ideas for AI support include accessing data around similar events; keywords for use in social media; popular hashtags; competitor event reviews, comparisons, and articles. When setting out your timeline for marketing, use your research to create a series of in-depth AI briefs for each stage of your strategy, including:

  • Teaser campaigns
  • Early bird signups
  • Coming soon…
  • Daily updates during event
  • Follow up, reviews and feedback

For each one of the above, instruct the AI assistant to create a range of posts to your required word length, key word inclusion, hashtag, and tone of voice. You can also combine your knowledge and creativity with AI support on a range of supporting blogs to engage your audience.

For website landing pages quickly analyse successful and popular websites, search for comparisons and use the AI assistant to spark your ideas for key words and effective content. Allowing the AI assistant to do the initial work, and then add in your unique take, expertise, and testimonials, but always ensure that you check and polish all content to keep it within your ‘house style’.

Next steps … getting started with AI

Get your team together to discuss how you can use AI: what tools would be appropriate and what areas you’ll explore, what safeguarding needs to be in place and the checks and polish process to ensure you use content generated to best effect.

AI is a tool that should complement your expertise, not overshadow it. And because AI is by no means dependable, the focus should be on repetitive tasks, saving time and money, allowing you more time and energy for the creative and strategic elements of your event; using the insights that AI can supply for more meaningful online and face to face engagement.

Important to consider…

However you choose to unleash the power of AI, it’s also important to safeguard people’s data through GDPR and the appropriate data security protection for all attendees, supporters, and sponsors.

Finally, did we use AI to write this blog? Yes, we used AI for research, examples, testing platforms, statistics and drawing together a consensus around how the event industry is using the new technology. AI is a good way to explore topics, but this blog was written by a human; collating, assessing, and testing, because nothing beats a personal, experienced view of our industry.

In the first paragraph, we said that it’s an exciting time for technology but also can be quite daunting, we hope this blog has helped, below is some key takeaways that we hope will guide you along the way.

Key takeaways

  • Use AI to spark creativity and brainstorm – tools such as ChatGPT can act as a virtual brainstorming partner, offering diverse suggestions and helping to break through creative blocks.
  • Details, details, details – Give the AI software as much information as possible. The quality of input significantly influences the output, so provide the AI software with in-depth information about your event, audience, goals, and preferences. The more you provide, the more tailored and relevant the AI-generated insights and ideas will be.
  • While AI is a useful tool for event planning, it should complement your expertise, not overshadow it. Your creative intuition, strategic thinking, and industry knowledge remain crucial when planning events. View AI as a collaborative tool, enhancing efficiency and freeing up your time to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of event planning.

If you discover an AI supported process not here that really works for you, why not share it with us at [email protected]? We are always keen to learn and share best practice.

Are you looking for a venue to host your next event, meeting, or conference? Then show your delegates that you know how to throw an event by choosing Horizon Leeds as your next venue.

Get in touch for a chat today on 0113 2253190 or drop us an email [email protected] to discuss what you’re looking for.