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More than meets the AI (Part 1): How cultural attractions can use artificial intelligence to improve the guest experience

It’s not just in your head. AI really is everywhere right now! Maybe you’ve played around with ChatGPT, or maybe you’ve worked with a chatbot to get personalized product recommendations, regardless of how you’ve used AI so far, there’s no denying we’re on the cusp of new technology that’s continuing to change the world.

And perhaps you’ve also been wondering just how cultural attractions can harness AI to support your needs. We’ve been thinking about the same and came up with five ways to get you thinking about how to use artificial intelligence to improve your guest experience and one consideration before getting started. From enhancing visitor experiences to aiding conservation efforts, AI can be used across the board to improve various areas in your zoos, museums, and aquariums. Here’s how.

The ultimate organizer 

For many organizations (not just cultural attractions), the issue isn’t that you don’t have enough data but rather you don’t know what to do with the mountain of information you have. Consider AI to be the ultimate organizer and analyst of this mountain of data. It can analyze everything from high-traffic times to trending food flavors, and turn this valuable information into actionable insights. We’ll dive into this further below but to start, this is a crucial element of how AI can support your attraction to start. Consider using a platform that can help you plug in all the areas where you gather data from customer data to heat mapping and demographics.

Integrating machine learning can elevate traditional AI applications by unlocking new insights and automating decisions beyond standard algorithms, pushing the boundaries of personalized guest experiences.

Deliver personalized experiences across dining, retail, and admissions

Once you have your data all in one place and your AI can analyze it, you can start to build off this information to deliver truly personalized experiences to your guests through the medium they prefer.

Perhaps a guest checks in to your attraction via smartphone or on-site kiosk, where they can answer a few questions, and then the AI will not only build them an itinerary or interactive tour that aligns with their interests and preferences but also streamlines their admission process. AI-run systems enhance ticketing procedures and manage lines more efficiently, minimizing delays and ensuring a smooth, uninterrupted experience right from the entrance.

Additionally, AI can suggest personalized recommendations to add to a guest’s ticketed experience.  For example, an aquarium could offer add-ons like being a part of an immersive ‘flood’ exhibit and offer guests the option to rent out a raincoat so they don’t get wet or a locker to store their purses in during the experience. They could also offer dining options to add on to the exhibit like mudslide brownies or a ‘stormy’ sundae. This type of ticketed personalization makes a guest’s experience memorable and unique from entry to exit.

Automate maintenance

AI goes beyond the aesthetics of the guest experience and also can help with functionality by supporting and predicting the maintenance needs of exhibits, structures, and other facilities throughout your attraction. Rather than using guesswork, artificial intelligence analyzes maintenance data from historical records to likelihood of repair needs and can alert the responsible parties when these needs arise (before they happen!) which helps institutions minimize interruptions, decrease expenses, and guarantee the safety of both visitors and staff.

Translation inclusivity

AI can also support language inclusivity as a powerful translation tool.  Enabling it within your cultural attraction can help you expand to an international audience, by making it easier to get around as well as better understand their experience with you. A couple of examples include AI-powered audio guides that offer real-time translation and can also include features like voice recognition, answering visitors' spoken questions in their language, or even smart signage which changes the displayed language based on the profile of the approaching visitor, detected through their smartphone app to guide a visitor’s experience from education to general safety.

Consideration: AI’s impact on the environment

While we explore the exciting potential of artificial intelligence, it would be remiss to not also acknowledge its impact beyond innovation and convenience. Though much of the future around AI is still unknown, there is a risk of its environmental impact as with any technology. For example, it could require significant energy consumption leading to carbon emissions as well as reliance on rare minerals for hardware with environmental implications.

Our goal above is to present a holistic view, addressing both the potentially transformative benefits and acknowledging these potential environmental challenges associated with AI.

Work smarter with AI

These are just a few simple ideas for how to use AI to improve your attraction from every angle. While the future of artificial intelligence is still very much unknown, the benefit to familiarizing yourself right now is ten-fold from personalization to sustainability to inclusivity. These small changes using AI can free up your employee's time to really deliver a better guest experience.

Read more about the latest in technology and stay tuned for part 2 of our AI series on our blog here.