AI Training Needed for Association Planners

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Skift Take

A new survey reveals a surprising disconnect between AI usage and AI training among association and non-profit planners. Ethical quandaries are also part of the challenge.

A survey of association and non-profit planners carried out by The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau and Ottawa Tourism revealed a significant knowledge gap in using artificial intelligence (AI) for event planning duties. Of the around 100 professionals surveyed, 63% said they already use AI, yet only 28% said they were investing in relevant AI training. It emphasizes how crucial it is for people to become more proficient in using AI technology and be aware of the ethical ramifications of its use.

The survey revealed a general lack of understanding of AI. Almost half (46%) revealed they had limited to no understanding of AI, and only 19% of the respondents expressed a good or advanced understanding.

Of those skipping AI education, the vast majority (85%) blame the lack of budget. Additionally, 23% said they have no intention to upskill.

AI Valued by Association and Non-profit Planners

Despite the low percentage of association and non-profit planners looking for AI training, most recognize the value of using AI and are making it part of their tool set. Most use AI either occasionally (31%) or rarely (25%). Only 7% said they use AI frequently. However, 8% are adamant about resisting its allure.

“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 Ottawa Tourism’s Vice President, Meeting and Major Events, Lesley Pincombe.

The main use cases are marketing (58%) and content curation (51%), both of which Skift Meetings has covered in detail. Some of the reluctance towards AI training could be explained by respondents’ lukewarm views on how much AI will impact their event organizing duties. On a scale from 1 to 10, the average score was 5.5. Respondents also did not seem too concerned that AI would threaten their jobs, with an average response of 3.5/10.

The Ethics of AI

Ethical and moral issues were also addressed in the survey. Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents who are using AI shared that they are not revealing its use to their delegates and stakeholders. However, almost two-thirds of respondents said they were concerned about the ethical implications of using AI in event organizing. 

The solutions to ethical and moral dilemmas surrounding AI use are not clear. A clear majority (63%) think governments should regulate AI. However, a similar majority (65%) don’t think governments have the knowledge to do so.

“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,” said Bas Schot, head of The Hague & Partners Convention Bureau.

In an interesting twist, the survey authors revealed that the survey was hacked by a bad actor, possibly looking to increase the chances of winning the voucher offered to respondents. This delayed the data analysis in the survey and required a manual approach to cleansing the data. Due to data privacy concerns, the authors opted not to use AI for this task.

Photo credit: Windows / Unsplash