A comprehensive white paper authored by The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau and Ottawa Tourism highlighted the accelerating integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in the global association conference and event sector; it also underscored the urgent need for widespread upskilling in the use of the technology, as well as a need to understand the ethical implications of its use.
The research, which investigates the current and potential impact of AI within the sector, is based on qualitative and quantitative methods, including a global survey with over 100 participants from the industry. Key findings include:
- 63 percent of associations and not-for-profits are already utilizing AI in event organization
- A significant knowledge gap exists, with 72 percent not engaging in AI education
- 85 percent have no budget for AI training
“The inevitability of AI in our sector is clear from our research; however, it’s not just about adoption; it’s about understanding and skillfully leveraging AI to enhance our industry,” said Lesley Pincombe, vice president, meeting and major events, Ottawa Tourism. “This upskilling is not just desirable; it’s essential for the sustainable growth and innovation in our sector. The research also highlighted the fact that there shouldn’t be fear associated with AI and the knowledge needed for its use. Ultimately, it is not for organizers to understand how to build or create AI tools [and] instead, they should be working with technology partners and AI experts to see how AI can be integrated into the work they are already undertaking.”
The whitepaper not only presents a statistical overview of AI in the association events sector but also offers in-depth analysis and actionable insights. It emphasizes the importance of ethical AI use, especially in data management and privacy. The document serves as a call for industry stakeholders to not only engage in learning and applying AI in their operations but to understand the ethics behind its use and the implications for mismanagement of data and individual privacy.
“AI is rapidly becoming a key technology across so many different industries [and] ours is no different,” said Bas Schot, head of The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau. “Our industry must adapt swiftly to stay ahead, and this means investing in knowledge and skills that align with these technological advancements. However, we must be careful to protect our delegates and ourselves as we make the most of what AI has to offer—we already need to consider both the pros and the cons before we entrust vital information and data to third parties—AI usage is no different.”
In December, initial highlights from the research were revealed, including the fact that 63 percent of global association buyers are either very concerned or slightly concerned about the ethical implications of using AI in event organizing. In response, although 63 percent think governments should legislate on the use of AI, 65 percent also think those same governments lack the required knowledge to be able to legislate effectively.
Source: Ottawa Tourism