AI to underpin growth of Middle East’s attractions and entertainment market
Members of the Middle East and North Africa Leisure and Attraction Council (MENALAC) are highlighting how a growing number of its member operators are using artificial intelligence (AI) for an increasingly diverse range of functions.
The use of AI not only features in rides and entertainments but also includes tracking visitor movement to ensure ease of traffic during peak periods, analysing purchasing behaviour through AI-enabled wristbands, as well as generating real-time reports on rides to ensure operational efficiency and guest safety.
As indicated by business intelligence platform ABiQ, leisure and entertainment projects worth over US$41 billion are currently underway in the Middle East.
This growth fits with the AI Consulting Group predicting that the global attractions and entertainment will grow at 9% touching the US$89 billion mark in 2023 and consultants PwC estimating that AI has the potential to add $320 billion to the Middle East economy by 2030.
However, a large part of the growth projection, hinges on consistently strong footfall at theme parks, amusement parks and attractions achieved through high engagement, immersive and personalised experiences.
AI is seen as being vital in this, underpinning efficiency and innovation and empowering operators to create memorable, curated and personalised guest experiences.
With most operators offering mobile app, AI can be leveraged to create content for guests based on their preferences - ensuring meaningful interaction even beyond the facility.
Raed Kuhail, Executive Director of Digital and Technology, Miral, a MENALAC member, explains “AI is an innovation that has truly surpassed all borders, emerging as the fastest-adopted technology in history.
“At Miral, we have witnessed first-hand how such technological innovations deliver real value, enabling us to revolutionise the leisure, entertainment and tourism industry and position Yas Island as a top global destination for entertainment and leisure.
“A combination of first-party data, AI, machine learning and data analytics is the key to powering our hyper-personalised, frictionless and memorable guest experiences. Be it through our ‘Noor Initiative’, a decision analytics strategy; FacePass, our facial recognition technology within Yas Theme Parks; our recent partnership with Microsoft that leverages ChatGPT for a customer-facing generative AI; as well as upcoming plans to enhance chatbot capabilities to handle ticketing sales, and exploring advanced AI technologies such as continuous machine learning (CML) across our wider operations.”
AI’s predictive capabilities, when coupled with human expertise can generate sustainable demand creation through strategic marketing and trend forecasting.
For instance, a recent GfK study found that experiences are more important than possessions for 47% of Saudi consumers, as they aspire to explore and indulge in the world outside of home.
The Gfk study calls for brands to leverage “unrivalled data science and business intelligence expertise and AI-backed technology” to create news ways of driving growth.
With the ‘experience’ space holding huge growth potential, meaningful collaborations between operators and AI enablers could be a gamechanger.
However, despite the obvious positive impact of AI on businesses, there are also challenges.
Some of the significant barriers to AI adoption include budget restrictions, difficulty in demonstrating business value and a desire for quick return on investment.
Another roadblock is the lack of expertise in understanding and leveraging AI in the most effective and ethical manner.
Images: Using extensive AI technology, the Spider-Man W.E.B. Adventure, is a centrepiece attraction at Disneyland, Paris (top) and Miral's FacePass in use at Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi (below).
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