Maximizing influence for your Destination Organization through Artificial Intelligence

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<span>Maximizing influence for your Destination Organization through Artificial Intelligence</span>
Bottom Line:

The tourism industry continues to experience a seismic shift that is fueled by advances in Artificial Intelligence. Destination organizations can leverage this technology to their benefit to increase their influence, streamline processes, and anticipate the future. 

The rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence and how to leverage this technology are at the forefront of every destination organization's mind. In addition to tourism, this onset of modern technology is affecting every industry: education, ecommerce, architecture, health care, entertainment, biotechnology, and computer science to name a few. In the entertainment world for example, the use of artificial intelligence has been utilized in film, television, and music often without the artist’s consent. Recently, artist Selena Gomez was artificially folded into the song Star Boy originally made by artist The Weeknd featuring computer generated vocals layered aside to the original artist. Additional concerns arise over the potential for bad actors to get ahold of the technology to generate spam, create disinformation, and at worst create havoc on the entire US economy. 

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As destination organizations, how can we sort through technology and utilize it for our benefit? There are a variety of ways in which AI can help enhance the role of a destination organization through understanding tools like Chat GPT, Bard, and Chatbots. The most recent Architects of Destination Advocacy podcast discussed how New York Tourism + Conventions uses ChatGPT to simplify legislation to understand risk, leads and losses, project deliverables across multiple departments, and analyze large data sets. Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism began testing chatbots on their websites to answer frequently asked questions, provide detailed information in real time, and create calls-to-action that encourage visitors to subscribe to vacation guides. 

AI Partnership – Tourism Jasper Operations 

Some destination organizations are beginning to leverage AI for their everyday operations. Tourism Jasper, an organization aiming to be a leader in AI space, has partnered with the Alberta Machine Intelligence institute; Edmonton AMII to leverage the technology for its operations. The partnership between Tourism Jasper and AMII aims to incorporate artificial intelligence into the festival's upcoming Dark Sky Festival, according to Tourism Jasper's president and CEO, James Jackson. With STEM technology, they can provide travelers with meaningful and engaging experiences in Jasper National Park, which was designated a Dark Sky preserve in 2011.

Further, Tourism Jasper is aiming to leverage this relationship to bolster its data intelligence to assess hotel performance, dispersion, and visitor patterns within the park. It is their goal to have the capability to conduct future forecasting for every scenario: extreme weather, pandemics, hotel revenue forecasts, and airline disruptions. According to the organization's analysis, AMII's partnership will enhance the organization’s ability to predict visitor behavior and strengthen its influence over the tourism industry.

As an example, a recent breakthrough AI model for weather prediction, Pangu-Weather has demonstrated the ability to forecast extreme weather events than traditional weather forecast models with higher accuracy. By utilizing these tools, destination organizations can identify areas of improvement, prepare for future challenges, and anticipate visitor travel behavior.

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Experience Atlanta Meta World

Atlanta's Meta World launched by Atlanta’s Convention and Visitors Bureau is a first of its kind virtual reality representation of an environment where users select their avatars, navigate through immersive experiences, and virtually connect with others. Users begin their experience in Meta World at Centennial Olympic Park's visitor information center, which is located nearby several hotels, theaters, and restaurants in the heart of downtown Atlanta. Once inside, visitors can explore several areas of the park, visit attractions, and tour meeting and event venues throughout the city. Moreover, meeting planners can provide prospective visitors with a virtual tour of a destination allowing prospective attendees to interact with other virtual world visitors and venue representatives. Atlanta’s Meta World strikes a balance between virtual reality and artificial intelligence and remains accessible through an internet browser allowing anyone with an internet connection to participate. 

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On the Meta’s Verse’s Potential Atlanta Convention & Visitor’s Bureau CEO William Pate stated:  

“If the metaverse realizes its full potential over the next decade, destinations will be early adopters to the platform to market and promote immersive experiences in their cities.”  

Developed in partnership with Atlanta-based companies Exploring Digital and MA Software systems, Meta World is built on the Unity software platform. Local tourism and hospitality businesses are encouraged to participate in the virtual world, allowing users to engage in a meaningful manner with establishments. Among the future rollout considerations is the integration of blockchain and NFT Technology as well as the creation of a sense of individual presence allowing users to control their movement and create customizable avatars. Furthermore, Meta World is advantageous for Destination Organizations that desire to bring event groups and leisure travelers to their destination empowering hospitality partners to create their own Metaverse experiences. 

Discover Jackson County, NC - Chat GPT

To accomplish a variety of tasks within the organization, Discover Jackson County has purchased a subscription to Chat GPT version 4.0 (GPT-4). This subscription allows the organization to be creative and think outside of the norm in their everyday operations. They utilize Chat GPT to automate tasks that are lengthy in nature allowing the staff more time to strategically plan. Effective use of technology allows the organization to strike a balance between efficiency of time and fiscal responsibility in being good stewards of tax dollars. In addition to creating social media posts and fine-tuning press releases, the organization has leveraged the technology in unique ways including creating funding agreements in the absence of exorbitant legal fees, sustainable tourism project planning, giveaway terms and conditions, and creating detailed restaurant website descriptions checking for accuracy in the output reports. 

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In partnership with a local university, Jackson County has begun work on a sustainable tourism plan focused on sustainability as a core pillar of their strategy. In preparation for the project, the organization has enlisted Chat GPT to create an initial outline for the project's scope to be shared with local stakeholders. As part of the strategic planning process, university students will audit local sustainability metrics and apply the lessons learned to other destinations in the fall. Moreover, Jackson County has utilized AI to create adequate restaurant descriptions to list on their organization’s website. Using GPT-4, Jackson County imports menu text from a local establishment to create a detailed description for use on the organization’s website. Well done restaurant descriptions on the website help to manage the visitor's expectations upon arrival. Additional use cases include the creation of funding agreements for brick-and-mortar projects in the community. To assemble a funding agreement, Chat GPT generated a draft to be reviewed by a contract lawyer with minimal fees, saving the organization immense legal bills.  

In summary, there are many ways destination organizations are leveraging new AI technology and utilizing it for their benefit. As we have seen in the past few months, AI is rapidly advancing on a broad scale, affecting every sector of our economy and society. From streamlining processes, predicting future weather patterns, and incorporating Chat GPT into legislation and funding agreements, AI presents an opportunity for destinations to identify key areas for improvement and anticipate future challenges. By utilizing the Metaverse, organizations can influence travelers on meeting and event venue choices, attractions, and create a unique authentic experience. Finally, although there are valid concerns about misuse of the technology, destinations can utilize it for their benefit in creating immersive experiences for travelers that propel the industry forward. 

About The Author

Stephanie Auslander

Advocacy and Data Coordinator
Destinations International

Stephanie is a recent graduate of Johnson & Wales University with a Master’s Degree in Global Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development. Previously, she worked as an Intern with Solimar International assisting Destination Marketing Organizations in formulating Tourism Development strategies for the Samtskhe–Javakheti region in Republic Of Georgia and the Sisian region of Armenia. Additionally, she is the author of a Tourism Research Proposal detailing ways in which Destinations can promote the concept of Sustainability to its consumers for a lasting positive impact. With a background in Tourism Development she is confident in her ability to help Destinations innovate into the future.

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