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Artificial Intelligence in the Trade Show Industry: Experts Chime In on Current Uses and Potential

image of a hand holding a digital ball that has AI in the center, representing the artificial intelligence used in the trade show industry

CHICAGO — From chatbots to matchmaking, AI has been being used in the trade show industry for many years to deliver value for events. According to the company websites, Swapcard and Expoplatform both use AI for matchmaking, allowing the technology to create matches based on collected data and learning from people’s behavior and choices throughout the show cycle.  

42Chat has been bringing AI to trade shows with their web and text based chatbots. Their curated AI chatbots deliver a Siri-like experience over text with an always-on support tool for trade show attendees. By offering this service to attendees, organizers can capture automatic SMS opt-in, so they can reach their attendees over text. When the event is over, the chatbots can keep people engaged with the brand year-round to increase revenue through attendee acquisition. 

“We think the ability to use AI to understand what people are asking and deliver the right answer, instantly, demonstrates the power of AI in the trade show industry,” Bob Caldwell, Founding Partner of 42Chat, said. “For the attendee, every question answered by the bot saves minutes, and collectively hours, of searching for the information. For the organizer facing less people and more work, the AI can take 80% or 90% of the load off a particular individual, so that person can focus on the higher value needs for your event.” 

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Caldwell shared that the SMS channel can be used to push out meaningful messages and even be critical for emergency updates, such as when their chatbot was used by a group in Cancun, Mexico, to keep members of the group informed on an active shooter situation in the resort. 

“The ability to reach event guests instantly on the emergency and when it was safe not only protected the guests, but showed guests that the event organizer had a plan to respond, if necessary,” Caldwell said. 

Caldwell also said that 42Chat is excited with the attention newer programs like ChatGPT, which recently enjoyed mass media coverage, is bringing to AI, but that it’s important for event organizers to consider how accurate responses are from AI programs and how humans will monitor the programs to make sure it enhances their brand. 

A Look at the Future Applications of AI 

Rich Stone, CEO of Expocad, talked with TSE about the potential uses of AI programs in the trade show industry, specifically about how ChatGPT and other AI programs can be used in exhibit sales.  

Stone explained that with a simple query, ChatGPT can generate sales pitches and marketing materials. “I went on ChatGPT, and said, ‘If you were a salesperson, sell me a booth at a trade show.’ And AI came back and said, ‘Are you looking to take your business to the next level and reach new customers? Look no further, I have the perfect solution for you. Exhibiting at a trade show is one of the most effective ways to showcase your products and services at a large and targeted audience.’ It gives a legitimate and convincing sales pitch that is specific to our industry,” said Stone. 

Other AI programs can create images. For instance, OpenAI’s DALL-E program, can create original images based on a textual description by using a dataset of text-image pairs, according to OpenAI’s website. Stone has tried out DALL-E and said the program can create new logos, branding, product designs and visual representations of booths. 

“I asked DALL-E for a logo design for a consumer show, specifically a sporting expo,” Stone said. “I didn’t give it any other guidance at all, and it created multiple logos for this made-up sporting expo. If you go ahead and give it all the parameters, all the things you might need, and you spend the two paragraphs giving it description, it will create something that is in the direction you’re wanting to go.”  

However powerful AI is currently, there is still a needed human element to get the program to perform, “You need people to build these designs, you need people to generate that text and you need people to look at to see if its structurally viable. It has some stumbling blocks, and that’s fine because that’s where a human comes in,” added Stone. 

“Since ChatGPT came along, this technology is going to accelerate. We still don’t know how much of a game-changer this is going to end up being, but this is a big deal,” Stone said. 

Reach Bob Caldwell at or (801) 971-4952; Rich Stone at 

Are you using AI in the organizing and producing of your show? Let us know as we continue reporting on this important technology by leaving a comment below, or email Maddy Ryley at

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