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Ulster University played host to the SNAIP-DC Project on Friday 24th August, which is a Research Challenge Fund project focused on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the ‘Destination Experience’ context.

Explaining the project’s focus, co-PI John Bustard said

“SNAIP-DC stands for Serviced & Networked Artificial Intelligence Project for Destination Competitiveness and the project explores AI through the implementation of a destination chatbot through an event context in the Causeway Coast & Glens Destination.”

According to the research team, findings will be valuable to Government, Tourism Destination and service organisations seeking to implement AI solutions to provide Competitive Advantage and increase stakeholder value, as well as supporting a future Horizon 2020 grant application in 2019 with Ulster University as lead partner of an international collaboration.

Co-PI and Provost, Dr. Karise Hutchinson added

"As Northern Ireland's civic university, the 50th golden anniversary of the Coleraine campus presents a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our relationships in the local community, especially events such as the NW200 with global reach.  Our research in the area of visitor event experience and technology with Bournemouth University underlines the real impact of our academic excellence in this area".

Research partners from Bournemouth Dr. Nicole Ferdinand and Dr. Nigel Williams were present for the workshop.  Dr. Williams highlighted that

“by  building new connections between people, Social Media has revolutionized Tourism and Events research. We're excited to explore the implications of how emergent Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence tools will enhance these connections to provide new ways of enhancing and extending the Visitor Event Experience. This research exemplifies our BU Fusion model that integrates Research, Education and Public Engagement as it brings together academia (Bournemouth University, University of Ulster), SMEs (IamCatobot) and the stakeholders engaged with the NW200 event.”

Commenting as Event Director and Research partner, Operations Director of the International NW200, Fergus MacKay added,

“as a tourism product, we are seeing a larger international and out of state share of visitors.  In a recent survey carried out by the event, 46% traveling to Northern Ireland for the event.  This is a significant increase and opportunity to encourage new fans to the event and to the wider Causeway Coast Region and Northern Ireland.  The collaboration with Ulster University and Bournemouth University has enabled us to investigate technology enabled means to create accessible, real-time and personalised event experiences both at the event and throughout our fans visit to the area.  Looking for fun and unique experiences for event participants is a critical event objective and the recent twitter bot was a means by which to create and share fun experiences.”

The team includes (From Ulster) Dr. Karise Hutchinson (co-PI), John Bustard (co-PI), Dr. Peter Bolan, Dr. Adrian Devine, Dr. Colm Murphy, (From Bournemouth) Dr. Nicole Ferdinand, Dr. Nigel Williams and from International NW200 Fergus MacKay.