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Artificial Intelligence Strides in California Hospitality Industry technology on an iPad at Kimpton Rowan, Palm Springs

Technology has advanced at a breakneck speed the past few decades, adding words like “computer,” “internet,” “smartphone” and “social media” to our everyday vocabulary—revolutionizing cultural and social norms. California has been at the epicenter of many of these inventions and is now the home of some of technology’s biggest names.

The new kid on the block in this string of innovations is artificial intelligence (AI), which surged to the forefront of society with the creation of ChatGPT in 2022. The San Francisco-based company OpenAI that launched the generative AI app saw its product become the fastest-growing software application in the world six months after it launched.  

In turn, the meetings and events industry has been grappling with the introduction of this new technology—both evaluating its risks and great potential. Fewer places are positioned better to show event professionals the opportunity and innovation AI can bring to the industry than California.

“It’s clear that AI will be involved in virtually everything we do going forward. In our industry, it’s already being used to source recommendations, build travel itineraries and even manage bookings,” said Caroline Beteta, president and CEO of Visit California. “Like many other technologies, California has established itself as a leader in artificial intelligence, home to many of the top AI companies and research institutions. Innovation is woven into California’s culture, influencing our meetings and events industry to dream bigger.”

[Related: 3 Tech-Forward California Venues to Wow Your Crowd]

Innovative Examples

Smart hotel room of the future at Kimpton Rowan, Palm Springs
Smart Hotel Room of the Future, Kimpton Rowan, Palm Springs. Courtesy

One such example of AI is at The Kimpton Rowan in Palm Springs, California, which made a splash when it announced a pilot project in November 2021.—a technology company, based in Denver with offices in California, that focuses on AI, machine learning and design-first hardware primarily in homes—partnered with IHG to select the property as the test location for the “smart hotel room of the future,” where it employed voice technology and AI to enhance the guest experience.

The first iteration of the pilot was born in part from the pandemic as a way to entice travelers to return to hotels by offering a touchless technology that mimicked the comforts of home. Automated lighting control (with color and tuning elements), window shades, audio and TVs could all be controlled with voice or an app. In the second iteration of the pilot in summer 2023 during the IHG Film Festival, generative AI technology was introduced with the Josh assistant.

“I can ask Josh any sort of question about local attractions near me, etc. It’s really limitless in the amount of assistance it can provide,” said Casey Levy-Tulloch, director of business development for

Levy-Tulloch noted that the pilot has generated interest from more hotels and has the company thinking even bigger, kicking around solutions for smart conference centers and other facilities.

“The first pilot has led to more conversations with hotel providers from big chains to small boutique hotels,” he said. “We definitely have gotten a lot of interest in the smart conference room or huddle room. We are actively discussing and scoping those projects.”

Restaurants and bars, hospitals and other healthcare facilities and even university classrooms are on the company’s radar following the Palm Springs program.

[Related: 4 California Convention Centers That Prioritize Sustainability]

Sojern, a San Francisco-based company that provides marketing services to hotels, destinations and attractions, is also doing innovative AI work in the hotel space. The travel marketing platform now offers an AI Smart Concierge to hotels, which lets “overburdened staff focus their time on delivering the highest levels of service, while [its] solution helps reduce front desk calls by more than 50% and increase response times by 30%.”  

Tasks like scheduling room service, upselling nearby attraction tickets or onsite restaurants, optimizing spa sales and other available services, or contacting housekeeping or maintenance can all be performed by the Smart Concierge. For busy meeting attendees staying at hotels, this seamless, contactless experience can be a major time saver, and it also opens up hotel staff to provide more customized service to guests.

“By using [AI Concierge] throughout the guest journey, Posadas has increased ancillary revenue with more than 53K requests over the last nine months,” said Leslie Gomez, director of quality, standards and innovation for Posadas, in a testimonial on Sojern’s website. “Our guests satisfaction improved more than 19 percentage points in NPS (Net Promoter Score) from guests who had contact with our digital concierge experience.”

These custom smart solutions are just the beginning. AI is growing at a rapid rate, and how it will continue to revolutionize the events and hospitality industry is yet to be seen. Though it comes with risks and rewards, California will surely continue to lead the way on many game-changing inventions and discoveries, as is its tradition. 

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This article was produced in partnership with Visit California

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About the author
Danielle LeBreck | Senior Content Director

Danielle started at Meetings Today in March 2019 after seven years of editorial experience in the travel and food industries. She oversees all of the destination content for Meetings Today and collaborates with the team on digital content strategy and content marketing initiatives.