AI: Your New Experience Design Partner

An overview of the state of AI in events, our FIRST AI principles, and the results of our internal ‘AI Challenge.’

In an industry once reliant on meticulous planning and manual processes, Artificial Intelligence is on the rise and reshaping everything from how we work to how we connect with others. The rise in AI may feel sudden, but would it surprise you to read it has been around for over 60 years, and you’ve been using it, probably without even realizing it?

General Motors has been using assembly line robots since 1961, Spellcheck has been scouring spelling and grammar mistakes as far back as 1971, and Bundeswehr University in Munich introduced the first driverless van in 1986. 

As AI begins to weave itself into the fabric of our daily lives, from Siri and Alexa, to Spotify music recommendations and curated social feeds, we are going to take a look at how AI is weaving itself into the Event industry. In an industry built on face-to-face interaction and with people at its core, we ask: can technology foster real connection?

Imagine AI-powered matchmaking connecting attendees with the exact same interests. Picture immersive projection lighting adapting to the collective mood of the audience. And while its potential to boost connection and human capabilities is undeniable, there is still so much unknown, which causes both curiosity and apprehension. 

Many have concerns about job displacement, ethical considerations, transparency, and losing the very essence of human connection in a technology-saturated world. 62% are concerned about AI use, and 60% have already lost trust in organizations over their AI use. (source) Copyright concerns also raise issues over the authenticity and ownership of AI-generated outputs, further muddying the waters in an already complex legal domain for companies. (source) YouTube is leading the charge for transparency in AI-produced content as creators must now label any “realistic-looking videos” made using artificial intelligence. It’s part of a push by the platform for transparency around content that could be confusing or misleading, CNN reports

AI Principles

Still, with all the potential positives and negatives to come with this ever-evolving technology, we know the magic of events lies in the human connection: being brought together by shared laughter in a crowded room, the friend you make grabbing coffee, or the spark of joy from people-watching – all transcend algorithms. 

The future isn’t about choosing between humans and machines. Instead, it’s about merging them together to enhance the overall experience. So, we’re choosing AI as our new experience design partner with a few principles in mind:

Frictionless, Not Forceful: Let AI seamlessly integrate into the event without being intrusive. Think invisible assistants, wearables you forget you have on, and easy wayfinding that gives suggestions on where to get food, see that keynote you’ve been eager for, or relax in a quiet space.

Data with Dignity:  Leverage AI-powered insights to personalize experiences while prioritizing data privacy. Let attendees control their data, opt-in or out, and understand how it’s used up front. Use AI to gauge emotional engagement, measure connections made, and optimize resource usage to promote sustainable practices. It’s important to ensure we follow data privacy laws and attendee information is held to the highest standards. Keep copyright issues front of mind and be transparent about the usage of content, as generative AI inherently relies on extensive datasets for learning, which may include copyrighted materials.

Inspire Creativity, Not Deprive It: People want tech that feels intentional and enhances the overall experience, not another one-off trick or gadget. Let AI be a partner in the creative process and a conduit for meaningful and personalized experiences that make people feel prioritized. It’s essential to also align the creative outputs with your brand’s purpose and messaging, ensuring it feels authentic to your brand voice and image, and feels right for your audience.

Testing It Out: FIRST AI Challenge 


It’s not enough to talk about AI. With so many tools available, we wanted to get hands-on, so you don’t have to. As we move into this new era, we need to know what we are using, and how to use it best so we can ask it to do better work, and decide where it adds the most value. At FIRST, we encouraged our teams to explore AI tools, see their limits, understand how they work, and decide if they would use them again. 

FIRST embarked on an AI challenge to test different platforms, from text generators to video editing tools. Our testers dove into a wide range of AI tools, including Chat GPT, Gemini, Runway, Ocoya, Beautiful.AI, Ideogram, Gamma, and Wordtune. Ultimately, we were searching for successful outputs to see if that tool could be our next experience design collaborator. We also strongly emphasized testing tools within the boundaries of ethical intellectual property and data practices, especially with sensitive data.  Data Ethics also means asking hard questions about the possible risks and consequences to people whom the data is about and the organizations who use that data. It’s important to understand how data will be used, consider who should have access to it, and anticipate how data could be misused. We consult with our Compliance team to ensure we are using best practices every step of the way.

After weeks of testing, we came out with three main takeaways:

Unlocking time

Most tools saved some time, although minimal, giving you a good head start, but we found you still need to tweak and iterate. For example, Ocoya is a great starting point for a social media post and saves time while developing copy. Another tester used ChatGPT, which saved them approximately 45 minutes of content writing, but found the tool gave too much detail. The user had to refine instructions or read through the details and decide what was useful and worth keeping. 

Inspiring creativity

Our testers found that although outputs weren’t client-ready, they helped with the creative process and inspired new ways of thinking. Tools like the video editing platform Runway, were a good jumping-off point to generate ideas and can be used as a creative exercise to, at the very least, help you understand what you’re actually looking for through specific prompts.

AI still needs humans

From a quality standpoint, the tools we tested weren’t 100% reliable. Our testers that used text-based generators found their outputs in part successful; however, they do not entirely eliminate the need for human review and refinement.  Additionally,  for creative roles like video designers, it became evident that the AI tools couldn’t replicate all the skills of a human designer.

So What’s Our Take?

AI in the events industry isn’t just about innovation; it’s about the responsibility to create events that are cutting-edge, emotionally resonant, and deeply human while always prioritizing responsible data and intellectual property practices. We look forward to testing more tools and seeing how the industry integrates AI into future experiences.