How Can AI Help You?
Once the realm of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) permeates our lives in more ways than we realize, and its use is growing.
Artificially intelligent chatbots are ubiquitous, automating interactions everywhere from retail to health care. Pension and insurance companies use AI to predict people’s appetite for risk. Security services employ facial recognition technology. Sales forces use AI marketing tools to reach customers at the right moment with the right message. Meanwhile, entertainers light up the skies with intelligent drone shows such as Scotland’s “Fare Well” spectacular, created by Underbelly and Celestial for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay 2020.
The Promise of AI
AI is an evolving and expanding area. According to the European Commission’s High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence: “AI refers to systems that display intelligent behavior by analyzing their environment and taking actions—with some degree of autonomy—to achieve specific goals. AI-based systems can be purely software-based, acting in the virtual world (e.g., voice assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems), or AI can be embedded in hardware devices (e.g., advanced robots, autonomous cars, drones, or Internet of Things applications).”
A European enterprise survey conducted by market research company Ipsos for the European Commission in 2020 found that 42% of European companies use at least one AI technology and another 18% have plans to adopt AI technologies by 2022. A recent poll by research and advisory company Gartner revealed that, despite the global impact of COVID-19, 47% of AI investments remained unchanged and 30% of organizations planned to increase such investments.
AI tools “bring us a new set of capabilities to create new opportunities,” says AI expert Neil Sahota, author of “Own the AI Revolution: Unlock Your Artificial Intelligence Strategy to Disrupt Your Competition.” By analyzing data for decision making, AI will “free us up to focus on more complex, value-added work,” says Sahota.
AI technologies are powering three trends that could have far-reaching benefits for the attractions industry: automation, forecasting, and personalization. However, “AI is not a magic bullet,” says Sahota. “AI cannot think for itself; it can only do what we’ve taught it to do.” Data is the fuel that powers AI. But having access to masses of data isn’t enough. Businesses need to know how to use it well.
AI in Attractions
Tivoli in Copenhagen, Denmark, has harnessed AI to help understand, predict, and influence guest behavior. “We want to get to know our guests,” says Michala Svane, senior vice president, sales and marketing at Tivoli. Tivoli’s customer data platform allows the park to unify customer data scattered across multiple systems. “We combine data from our CRM (customer relationship management) and digital channels, including newsletters, e-surveys, online offers, website visits, and e-commerce. By adding AI, we can unlock actionable insights and empower our employees to delight our guests in person and via digital touchpoints,” says Svane. These insights allow for precise marketing tailored to guests’ preferences.
“We’ve learned more about the critical stages of the customer lifetime journey, what visitor behavior creates loyalty, and what incentives to use and when to motivate revisits and annual pass renewals,” says Svane. Tivoli uses this knowledge to develop its communications and targeted products, incentives, and offers for visitors. Thus, Tivoli can “create a personalized experience that enchants our guests,” says Svane.
When Tivoli started exploring AI, it anticipated a “return on expectations rather than a return on investment,” she says. But Tivoli’s work has shown that investing in a long-term relationship with guests is good business. Tivoli has reduced churn among annual passholders and generated repeat visits.
Tivoli’s information technology and marketing teams initially joined forces with Microsoft and its Dynamics 365 Customer Insights platform. “The solution with artificial intelligence and machine learning got us started, but now we are working with the solution in-house,” says Svane.
Global Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is leveraging AI solutions in several ways. “Crowd analytics, integrated with our security surveillance system, allows real-time tracking within zones and addresses capacity management,” says Global Village CEO Bader Anwahi. AI and machine learning capabilities allow the park to manage safe distancing, footfall, thermal checks, locking, and alerts.
AI also facilitates a smart network management system. “With the help of machine learning and AI capabilities, we can drill down to any level on the network and even predict if certain equipment or software is going to suffer damage. Such predictive capabilities enhance the way we operate the technology ecosystem,” says Anwahi.
A field services app with AI capabilities helps Global Village manage operational tasks. Resources are allocated automatically based on workforce availability and workloads. Global Village also deploys facial recognition technology to enhance security and allow seamless and contactless access to partners and exhibitors working at the park.
“Global Village’s deployment of AI helps us operate behind the scenes according to the best international guest experience standards,” says Anwahi.
Working with third-party AI solutions is cost-effective, according to Anwahi. The hyper-predictive abilities of AI can also have a “direct impact on savings related to manpower, resources, overheads, and hardware costs.”
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) has collaborated with the online game “Occupy White Walls” (OWW), an AI-driven art platform that allows users to explore and curate virtual galleries.
Digital artist Rosa Francesca, who previously worked with BMAG, suggested that the museum allow people to view and use its images within the OWW game.
“I met with Yarden Yaroshevski, founder and CEO at StikiPixels, the startup behind OWW, and was impressed with the game and with the large user base, some 75,000 players,” says Linda Spurdle, head of digital at Birmingham Museums.
The museum gave OWW 200 images, which occupy a virtual BMAG. Players can also find them via recommendation as the AI suggests artworks based on what users like. “Most players know nothing about Birmingham Museums and will discover artwork from our collection for the first time,” says Spurdle.
“It’s a fantastic gaming experience for people who love art and a perfect diversion during lockdown,” she says. “We plan to do much more together, adding more artworks, guest curators, virtual events, etc. But the most exciting thing is what other people choose to do with the artworks; it really is down to their imagination!”
Although AI comes at a cost, its transformative effects are evident across the attractions industry. Combined with attraction operators’ expertise, data sets, creativity, and understanding of people, these technologies could deliver fresh guest experiences and business value in the future.
Funworld Contributing Editor Juliana Gilling covers the attractions industry in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region. Contact her at [email protected].