An increase in remote and hybrid working, and teams wanting to return to meeting face-to-face post-pandemic, has generated a welcome return to in-person events.

Yet, as a result of the move to virtual events during the pandemic, there has also been an upsurge in the appetite for advanced technology for meetings and events.

Our webinar ‘Humans and Technology – why we need both in travel management’ – in partnership with Festive Road – explored whether we should expect an evolution of artificial intelligence in travel management to such an extent that we’ll need less human interaction. The question was also put to our panel regarding the meetings and events planning landscape.

Reed & Mackay’s Global Client Success Manager, Groups, Meetings & Events Mat Browne and Learning Specialist, Global Fares Jo Shilling were joined by clients Beazley Insurance Head of Facilities & Travel Management Simon Robinson and NYK Group Business Administration Manager and Interim Travel Manager Annie Uelese to discuss these issues.

Browne was resolute that, when it comes to the human interaction and technology within the events industry, they will need to continue working hand in hand.

“Reed & Mackay is renowned for its high-touch, people-led business that’s growing its global footprint. We see real value in offering local knowledge and understanding of local nuances when organising meetings and events. That skill comes from people,” Browne says.

“Simultaneously, technology is key for event planning. It’s becoming so innovative; for large group events there’s tech to seamlessly manage delegate registration and we’re working with online apps that allow delegates to connect with each other from the offset.”

Where can ai assist meetings & events

Browne highlights how AI and technology can drive seamless co-ordination of organising an event or meeting.

Reed & Mackay has recently launched R&M/Meet – its in-house online booking tool for small- to medium-sized meetings – for client Beazley Insurance.

Beazley’s Head of Facilities & Travel Management Simon Robinson explains how the tech has been helping the business on several different levels. It’s ranged from basic venue finding and organising delegate invites to managing the attendees and post-event feedback. This has been particularly beneficial as the insurance company has more than 2,000 employees globally, with many event planners tapping into this resource.

“These tech elements help enormously, particularly to push out notifications before an event, so we don’t have to go to different sources for an email distribution list,” Robinson says. “The tool is geared up to make the event booker’s life a lot easier, more efficient, meaning they have more time to work on other elements. “Plus post-event data allows us to see how we rated the venue, its facilities etc so we can see what worked well and, ultimately, that helps us decide whether we use that venue again.”

Understanding booking behaviour

AI is also essential for capturing crucial data on booking behaviour. “Cost saving is a huge issue for businesses right now so having this data available via R&M/Portal, we can see how far in advance people book or the days of the week that are more popular,” Browne explains.

“We can then advise clients to organise their events at the start or end of the week rather than the middle where demand is driving up prices. Information like that can make all the difference to a company’s bottom line.”

Where does the human touch help?

The AI may deliver the data on when a venue is in high demand. Yet, as roles become more fragmented – planning an event may fall to an Executive Assistant, which will only form part of their role – it’s your TMC’s event manager’s experience and knowledge that can translate the data and advise accordingly.

For example, it’s people that will know whether to avoid booking an event during the Fashion Weeks or major sporting events around the globe. And understanding what the client needs from their event – whether it’s a creative session or team-building event that requires a wow factor venue – is where the human touch can complement the AI when organising and running meetings and events.