How AI tools can enhance meetings

Experts including Microsoft share how AI can build social capital.

A mindset change - thinking of AI as a kind of co-pilot for planners.
A mindset change - thinking of AI as a kind of co-pilot for planners. Photo Credit: Adobe Stock/kras99

Generative AI and associated tools could enhance the MICE industry by finding the best routes for journeys, enabling travellers to quickly and easily access specific destination content, and improve levels of social capital.

These were some of the trends highlighted during a webinar hosted by PhocusWire and Miles Partnership, titled, The power of generative AI and ChatGPT and what it means for tourism and hospitality.

“Travel from a business perspective has to be more purposeful in terms of when, where and how we travel - so we are going to question how AI can build social capital and help us understand whether we should actually go on a particular trip to meet a person,” said Shane O’Flaherty, global director of travel, transportation & hospitality for Microsoft.

“Think of AI as a kind of co-pilot, prompting me that it’s time I saw this person face-to-face as opposed to (going) on a call. From the travel agency perspective, the co-pilot will gather data and drive more operational efficiency.”

Participants included Tim Peter, president and founder at e-commerce and Internet marketing consultancy firm Tim Peter & Associates, Christian Watts, founder of Magpie, which focuses on content management for the tours and activities sector, Mitra Sorrells, PhocusWire editor-in-chief, and Gray Lawry, VP strategy & insights at Miles Partnership.

Peter said: “A great example is what AI does for marketing and customer experience,” he said. “The average is about to get better - it’s going to raise the bar and also raise customer expectations of what they should get everywhere.”

Magpie’s Watts highlighted how his business is building an experiences plug-in related to destination content and gave his take on how this would look in the future.

“We will all have these [AI] agents when we land in a place, we're going to walk around the city and we're just going to talk to our agent and we're going to say ‘take me to the restaurant’, ‘take me to the bridge’ or ‘show me around,” he said.

Participants also highlighted how the travel and tourism industries are lagging behind other sectors in terms of AI adoption. “We’re behind, It's not a technology issue anymore,” said Microsoft’s O’Flaherty. “This is about a cultural issue of embracing technology and really empowering you and the consumer to get more out of travel. It’s a super exciting time, yet we are sitting on legacy systems that need to be modernised.”

Miles Partnership's Lawry offered tips for tourism professionals on how best to harness generative AI tools. With prompts used to communicate with large language models, he cautioned participants that the most important thing to remember about prompts is that ‘if you put garbage in, you’re likely to get garbage out’.

“Focus on the types of tasks you want to achieve with these language models, which could be to generate, to analyse, to categorise or modify text or brainstorm new ideas,” he said.