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Glamping Guest Attraction Made Easy With AI, Ben Kilner And Sarah Riley #065

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This episode is for you if you are wondering how you can attract more guests to your glamping or unique holiday rental. In it, we discuss how you can make your guest attraction marketing easier so you get lots of lovely new guests without having to spend so much time doing the work.

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Are there tools you can use and how does that work?

Today I invite you into the brave new world of marketing with AI and using tools available to help you with guest attraction.

This episode is perfect for anyone struggling to attract the customers they want and unable to find the time to make a difference to their numbers.

To find out more about Ben Kilner and his current projects, go to

To access his AI expertise, go to

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If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah here.

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Sarah Riley: One of the ongoing challenges for small businesses is marketing. It’s an ongoing task that many simply just don’t like. Instead, they’d rather be mixing with their guests or working on their land or improving their services. In fact, they’ll find any excuse possible to get out of doing their marketing. But as the industry gets more sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to focus on guest attraction. So what have I told you There was something that can help you. Now it removes the burden and helps you get the job done, freeing you up to do whatever really lights you up. Well, there is a new kid on the block, and so I’ve designed this episode to invite you into the brave new world of marketing and guest attraction done for you. Welcome to episode 65. Glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver and experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work-life balance. So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment I’m Sarah Riley, and I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of Glamping and unique Holiday Rentals.

Sarah Riley: Hello, and thank you for joining me. So today I’m gonna be talking all about marketing done for you and all of that being made easy by lots of tools that are available for you and anyone else to use. And most of them are free. Oh my goodness, how amazing is that But before I get onto that, I wanted to talk about a program that I’m running and I run it every year. Every time we come to the end of a year and the start of a new one, it’s a great time to look at what’s happened over the last year. So to do a bit of a review and then make some plans about what we’re gonna do the following year. In my own experience, I have found that this is incredibly helpful for getting rid of old things that aren’t serving me and taking on new things which are amazing for my business and in my own personal life.

Sarah Riley: So I call this transform and of course, ’cause we’re going into 2024. This is called Transform 24. And it’s a time, it’s like a little bit of a workshop. There’s a workbook that goes with it. It’s a time when people can basically sit in a room and go through some prompts to really start thinking about maybe some old outdated habits that they’ve got, some toxic mindsets and other things that are holding them back. So it could be something like someone feels they aren’t doing as well as they wish. This is giving them a bit of anxiety. So a lot of people that I work with, they have anxiety around social media. So it might just be that they’re doing social media, but they’re not really having an impact. Maybe they’re not getting many followers and it’s making them feel quite anxious and it it becomes something that affects them on a regular basis through their day.

Sarah Riley: And if it’s something that they allow to really kind of eat into their confidence, then it can pop up in other areas. So it might be that they’ll start doubting that they’re any good at talking with customers when they arrive, or maybe they start holding themselves back from sending that email to their customers or to people who are on their email list to invite them to take part in a, a special offer that they’ve got going, or they want to just keep in contact with them and share some news about what’s been going on at their site. All of these things can sometimes lead from one key reason, and it’s about taking a bit of time to actually go over that, to maybe think about that, where the source for that anxiety is. Maybe it’s something that is leading to some toxic thinking and how can that be dealt with.

Sarah Riley: So I always think that bringing in a new year is a great time to really go over these things and start cutting outta your life the stuff that isn’t serving you properly. And that is maybe bringing some negatives. So this is what I’m doing, and if you wanna take part in this, this is open to anyone who wants to join in. It’s happening on the 4th of January at 4:00 PM Greenwich meantime. So whatever that is in your time zone, we’d love to have you join us. So you can do that by following this link. So get ready to write it down. It’s inspired, four as in transform 24. So that’s inspired four. It’s completely free. Everyone is welcome to come. It’s all taking place in the inspired courses members area. So you’ll have to sign up to get an account, but once you have the account, you can come in, you can say hi, introduce yourself, and you can also have all of the recordings and anything else shared there, including the workbook.

Sarah Riley: So this is all happening if you follow inspired 24. So recently I’ve been guiding my club members through the quagmire of how you can use artificial intelligence to free up your time and your brain space for more enjoyable jobs. The potential of ai, especially for small businesses, is just simply incredible. But it’s not always going to be a smooth ride, especially if you dunno what you’re doing. In fact, it can actually harm your business. So recently Google changed their algorithm, they updated it, and now it’s actually penalizing those websites that are only using AI generated content. So this shows that the movers and shakers of the world are hot on the tail of AI and making sure it won’t mess up the experience of users on the internet and how they find information, whether that information is correct and so on. So the more sophisticated AI gets, the more sophisticated this kind of thing will get when Google and other organizations like it will start marking down and penalizing more websites and more businesses for using it.

Sarah Riley: But there’s much more to AI than just creating content. And I recently wrote a book all about this. It’s part of my hospitality hacks series for my club members, which I’ve designed to help them get stuff done quicker. So it’s how they can hack the system, but in a safe way. And in my book, I showed how AI tools can help you manage stock cleaners, website content, guest communication accounts. And I listed 120 mind-blowing AI tools to use in the right way to make the job easier without getting it wrong. And that’s why in this episode, I decided to invite Ben Kilner onto the show. Now Ben has an AI tech consultancy, which helps small businesses incorporate AI into their workflow so they can reduce costs and increase efficiency. So there’s much to be gained from understanding how all of this works. And if you are a little bit concerned or worried or you don’t understand how it might work for you or how you can make the best of it without inviting any of the negatives in, then get in touch either through the podcast, through my site inspired courses, and Ben will also share his contact details at the end.

Sarah Riley: So let’s head on over to the conversation now. Ben, it’s incredible that you are here and I really am very grateful for your time because this is a topic that so many of us are struggling with. And I suppose also feeling kind of the tingling sensation of, oh my goodness, where is this going This is actually a little bit scary, especially for those who maybe have the head in the sand and they’re, they’re not wanting to face up to the fact this is where it’s going. and then there’s those that maybe are saying, well, hang on a minute. I can actually use this to really help me in my business and my every day. So let’s have a kind of a broad talk. But first, before we go, along into the detail of ai, let’s talk about you. How did you get into ai And I know that you are a previous glamping business owner, so you have fantastic knowledge of the industry, but also now you are really involved in ai. Tell me, how did that happen

Ben Kilner: So, well, first of all, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here and thank you for having me. So years and years ago, I started the customer success and delivery team for an AI tech startup. And their goal was to allow councils within the UK to track vehicles along their streets anonymously. So without any GDPR issues and the way they worked, they put edge computers, so very small AI models, online posts to track vehicles within the field view of these cameras. And so I, I led that team for I think about three and a half years or so, and then moved into glamping space, as you well know, that’s when I met you. and then I have now sold that business and it has been, a sort of, after taking a sabbatical last year and this recent boom in consumer ai, I was beginning to get a bunch of questions from both friends, old colleagues and just general contacts about how they could use it in their business.

Ben Kilner: And so that led me to found the AI in and it has been the, a very, very strange journey. Indeed, very strange because as you say, there is this monumental shift of sort of delegation of human intellect from humans to computers, which is unprecedented and is going to be incredibly disruptive. So to all of your listeners who are, you know, got their head in the sand, I do not blame you at all. but I think as we’ll go into in this podcast, there are ways that you can use it in your business to really help your business in a sort of easily accessible and non-threatening way.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm, . So I think we were just saying before I pressed record, we were just saying about how the AI is learning so quickly from just people using it. It’s learning and it’s developing. So something that it may have done last week, it’s maybe didn’t do it quite so well, or maybe it did it slightly differently this week. It’s doing it in an on another level, on another scale. ’cause it’s had lots of users that have been using it, interacting with it, and it’s learning from that process. And so tell listeners, kind of ai, can you sum it up in a broad view if you can, challenge for you, Ben can you sum it up in a umbrella view way So

Ben Kilner: The term AI was coined, to describe computers that begin to exhibit human capabilities. That could be site, it could be audio recognition, it could be voice creation or creative writing. And so it’s a very broad umbrella term, which is banded about sometimes correctly, sometimes incorrectly. But overall it is a computer that does human things and the way it learns is very similar to the way a human would learn. So it’s been, say for example, you wanted to teach your child how to recognize a cat, you would show its, let’s say tens of images of cats in a little picture book. And each time you saw it, you’d say, cat. And eventually your child would say, cat. And you were like, yes, my child is really smart. And it is a very similar thing for AI models. You take probably hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe even millions of cat images, you draw a box around and say, this is cat, everything else is not cat. And you put that into a neural network, which then begins to recognize what a cat is from these groups of pixels. And based on that, they AI models, are now better than humans, more often than not, at recognizing images for large data sets. And the more information you put in and the more you correct its mistakes, the better it gets over time exactly as you would with a sort of human child learning in school.

Sarah Riley: So in terms of this industry and in terms of a business owner in this industry, what do you think they should be knowing and what do you think they should be doing about this huge monumental shift in things to do with artificial intelligence What, what do you think people should be paying attention to, whether they want to or not

Ben Kilner: So for the hospitality and glamping space, I think it won’t be as disruptive as it will be in other industries. So actually the threat to your jobs, to your livelihood is minimized comparatively to, let’s say an accountant out there who, or a banker. so bear that in mind, have that confidence that it’s not gonna come after your job. immediately. AI combined with robots might eventually, but we’ll leave that for another time. the thing to really focus on is how to easily access AI to using your business and in, in a, in a non-threatening way. You don’t have to use the biggest, best, smartest models out there. And, and you also don’t need to become overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of them. Just focus on a very, very small number of protocols. the ones I’ll be recommending primarily are well is chat GPT, which many of you’ll be f familiar with.

Ben Kilner: If you’re familiar with the AI space and just get started, you learn how to prompt engineer. It sounds complicated, it isn’t. It’s literally like having a conversation with a computer and there’s good ways to do it and bad work, bad ways to do it. And so building up that knowledge in a really simplified way is the best way you could possibly get started. And you realize it’s exceptionally powerful, especially for small business owners who are often solopreneurs or would have a very small team. And they have the advantage over large corporations who can’t introduce AI because frankly they would need to jump through so many security hoops in order to sign it off, that they are left in the dust and the likes of Samsung and even Google are telling their employees not to use AI because as we mentioned earlier, it learns from the actions they put in and therefore they can lose, crucial bits of ip. Whereas as a small business where we don’t really have much crucial IP to be lost, we can, begin to use it in our businesses very quickly and very easily. And my general rule of thumb is you can get AI to do language-based tasks, roughly about 80% of the task it can do for you. But you will always need to do that 20% of checking and also the input at the beginning, which is crucial also.

Sarah Riley: Mm. So I’ve been talking, to my startup and grow club people who are trying to, do what they can to improve their business and the methods of working. And also, as you said, many are saying, I kind of know what to do, but I don’t have the time to do it because I’m so engaged with the guest and everything else I have, you know, how do I get things done And AI and what you were saying there with chat, GPT is one of those things that you can use and, but let’s talk about how that works for someone who doesn’t know they may be heard all the elements and yet they still haven’t quite, you know, understood what it is and how it might work. So my understanding is that it learns by consuming lots of information and then you can give it commands and it will spit out, say lumps of text.

Sarah Riley: And it could be a Facebook ad, it could be a paragraph for a blog that you are writing. It could be a sales page you’re putting together. It could just be a conversational piece in an email that you’re wanting to send out, but you don’t have the time to construct it. You don’t have the thinking, the brain space, but you can get chat GPT to do it for you. So give people an idea of how that works and how good it is. ’cause a lot of people will say, oh, it’s not that good. There’s no way that you know, someone or a piece of code a program will be able to write what I’m thinking. I know because I’ve been using it, I know how good it is. But you tell me you perspective of how good it is.

Ben Kilner: So the way they’re built really is you put in millions of lines of high quality text. That could be, novels, it could be very well written articles, et cetera. And over time the AI model, the large language model, which chat GPT is, will learn basically what word should come after the previous word. So essentially it’s a word guesser and it gets better and better at guessing the next word in a sentence until it is completed your sentence structure or your paragraph or your article, whichever. And previous models. So let’s talk about the different AI models. within chat gt you’ve got 3.5, which is free. you can log into chat GPT and use it. It’s relatively quick, it is quite accurate. It lacks some sort of logical capabilities relative to chat GBT for which is paid for. it’s roughly $20 a month.

Ben Kilner: But the additional power you get with that is huge. It’s got exceptional logical capabilities. It is much more concise, so less rambling, and it’s just really, really powerful. So bearing in mind the fact that you have a model which is guessing the next word, and you want it to give you a very specific answer, you need to ask it a very specific question and give it the information it needs in order to give you the answer. So if you, if you were to like copy and paste in a paragraph and just say, improve this, it will have a stab at it. But it’s way, way too broad. You need to give it a bit more context and say, I’m going to give you a paragraph which I think the syntax needs to be improved, or I want to make it shorter, or I want to make it longer.

Ben Kilner: And I want you to write it in the style of that could be an expert marketer, it could be, a, a sort of glamping host, a sort of enthusiastic glamping host. So you give it that sort of context about what you wanted it to do. You give it a very specific question and then you press enter and off it goes. And often people will, sometimes well, they’ll sometimes be disappointed by the answer they get and they will lose interest in the whole thing. And they, you’ve got to remember it’s this sort of iterative thing you are learning as well as it is learning from you as well. So the more time and more iterations you give it, the better it will get and the better you will get at getting the commands out that you want. Hmm. And the other thing to note with within chatt BT is that you have, let’s call them chats ’cause that’s what it’s built around.

Ben Kilner: You have these separate chats. Each time you start a new topic, you need to start a new chat. you can keep a chat going for ages. So for example, you could have a social media, agent chat. So agent, agent social media, let’s call the chat. And it, it grows over time. It knows exactly the format that you like your social media captions to be written in. And so each time you need a new one, you go back into that old chat. If you wanted a new topic, you’d start a new chat and build up that knowledge base from there.

Sarah Riley: So I’ve heard a lot of people talking about, well, artificial intelligence is just that it’s artificial and my business is authentic and my business is very different. I couldn’t use that artificial tool because it’s not gonna be with my personality, it’s not gonna have my voice, it’s not gonna connect with my guests and my audience like I want it to. You are saying there that actually the more you use it, the more it will learn and the more it will speak in your language, the more it will become authentic. Like you, I is that the interpretation Have I got that right

Ben Kilner: Spot on! So the more examples you give it of your writing initially, the better it will be from the off. And the more corrections you give it as you go along, the better it will be eventually. So decent input plus corrections as you go along will really steer it towards a very accurate representation of how you like to write or your particular tone and style.

Sarah Riley: So what do you personally recommend for someone in this space, in the hospitality industry that you know that usually smaller businesses, usually solopreneurs or people with a very small team, what are the various tools or the various tasks that AI could do on their behalf What would you recommend

Ben Kilner: So I would start by assuming that each leader of the company become familiar with AI before passing it onto the rest of their team. The reason I suggest this is because having dealt with a bunch of clients who have tried to delegate it immediately to a member of staff, they’ve remained a bit bit confused about how it all works. I’d highly recommend getting started with understanding the ropes yourself, even if it’s just on a fundamental level. And the the starting point, especially from a director of a company, should be to use it as a sort of direct a copilot. Imagine having a very intelligent intern come into your company, but they know nothing about your company. They’re exceptionally intelligent, they know lots about general things, but nothing about your specific company. So you start off by giving it the information or giving this sort of artificial intern the information it needs about your company.

Ben Kilner: And then you begin to ask for its support. So it could be writing standard operating procedures, it could be writing a sort of cleaning checklist for the bathrooms. It knows how to do this, it’s done, it’s probably got thousands if not hundreds of thousands of examples that it’s trained on before, and therefore it can guess what it is that you will want from your standard operation procedure. So the starting point would be create a sort of director co-pilot, rely on it as that ultra intelligent intern who needs sort of forming like clay around your business, but ultimately does need that information about your business in, in, in order to be able to give you the best possible answer.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm. I mean that’s a fantastic way of summing it up because so many times people say to me, oh, haven’t got my SOPs in place. and I say to them, well, what happens then if you, you fall ill and you are the director of your business and there’s no one else who can take over from you if you fall ill. And you know, we’ve seen that during the pandemic, haven’t we When people have suddenly got long covid or you know, some suddenly just have been taken out of their business for various reasons. And that just means that there’s no SOPs there to guide everyone else on the daily operations and the daily things they need to do. But so many people say, I haven’t got time to put that together. I haven’t got time to study, you know, what I need to put in that checklist or, or that list. So this gives people a foundation to build upon to save them a lot of time to, rather than starting from a blank piece of paper as it were, you know, old school way, you’re actually starting from a full piece of paper you’re just going through and you are crossing things out saying, that doesn’t apply to me. And you are adding things because it’s prompted you to think about things differently for your business. Would you say that’s how it works

Ben Kilner: Definitely. The, the ideas and suggestions that will come up won’t be groundbreaking. They will simply be run of the mill ideas that would’ve taken you quite a long time to remember or think of yourself. You would’ve had to use Google to probably search up some examples which may not be applicable to your business. Whereas this will move us from the age of searching, sort of questions to the age of answers, which I think is where we’re headed. People will be less likely to be searching for questions in the future, more just simply they want the answer then and there and that is what this begins to provide. Mm-Hmm.

Sarah Riley: So in terms of what a small business owner might be doing on a day-to-day basis, can you give some examples of some of the things that, AI can really help ’em with So we’ve talked about writing, we’ve talked about blogs and SOPs and all of that kind of thing. I’ve also heard about things like, pricing. So looking at the market in general, seeing what prices being charged by everyone local to a business and saying, demand is high at the moment, therefore you can charge your prices and it automatically puts the price up. so an example of that is Price Labs, I believe, and it, are there any other things that you can, come up with or, or remember, or, or think about would go well in the daily tasks for, a small business owner

Ben Kilner: One potential, potentially very powerful sort of gatekeeper for the business are chat bots. They have a bad rep. I mean we’ve all been on the phone to, large utility companies and been sort of, yeah, chat we’ve, we’ve been chatted at by a computer rather than chatted with. they are getting a lot, lot better. So having an online chat bot, which answers really simple questions about your business, just allows people to, again, to move from that search searching for answers to literally just having the answer at their fingertips by putting it into that chat box. It could be, how do I get there What are the best pubs nearby and then that, that chat bot capability can extend to within the operations within your company. So rather than having a customer, having a big old wa of documents about the local area and checking procedures, et cetera, that can all be held potentially within a WhatsApp chat bot, which has been trained about everything to do with your business and can answer everything for you.

Ben Kilner: So those are two sort of, customer facing examples. Another customer facing example could be email, auto-reply, where it’ll create a first draft reply to an email. that’s an interesting one. Again, always worth checking it because it, there will occasionally be mistakes, from a sort of daily operation. Otherwise really it’s down to creating those standard operating procedures, which we have discussed before. And once they’re created, they should then free up your time much more. another idea for especially early stage within a company is creating mockups of what you want your units to look like. the historic process was probably be trolled through Instagram and Pinterest, whereas now you can generate incredible graphics from a protocol called Mid Journey. it’s relatively inaccessible and I’d say this is a, this is great for, for people who are a little bit more familiar with, computers and are just comfortable with the sort of tech space a bit more.

Ben Kilner: But once you have the grasps of that, there is no need to employ a artistic, sort of creator to mock up your interiors or even the structures of your tree house or your safari tent. You can go into mid journey and put in a prompt in a similar way you would with chat GBT, give it a few more tweaks and commands at the end and you can generate images which you own and you can then use to send off to your architect if you are going to create a building or your interior designer and say, this is where I want to start. let’s go from there. So the other thing that can be useful, useful for is logo generation. and I would say that there are two major limitations with this image generation space at the moment. And one is text to text. So if you ask Midjourney to put in text onto a logo, it really struggles with that, dunno why just hasn’t mastered it yet. And the other one is limbs and fingers. So if you have people in the image, occasionally it’ll throw in sort of a seventh, you know, a seventh finger or a, a fourth limb just by surprise . and so that’s just something to be aware of. but those are other particularly useful use cases of AI at the moment. But as things progress, more and more powerful applications will pop up.

Sarah Riley: I saw recently some images generated, I believe by Midjourney, which are of the new king, during his coronation. And it was really funny because, well, incredible images, incredible, you would not know that it wasn’t him, but for his crown, because his crown, the AI just couldn’t get the crown. So the crown is like this huge thing on his head, but the king was just like laughing and dancing as you would imagine, someone who’s just been a crowned king of the country and it was just hilarious. But this, yeah, the crown with as probably a bit like fingers, you know, it wasn’t quite coping with the, the top of the crown. But I suppose also a thing that comes to mind is for those startup businesses, when often a thing that I’m told is that I can’t do my website yet. I can’t put any images on it because I’m still building my structures and I haven’t got any images that will show the structures.

Sarah Riley: I haven’t got any images that show my typical guest. I can’t, you know, find anything on the image libraries that will suit it. And I suppose something like this could actually create something from scratch around your vision and will put that into an image that you can then use on your new website to promote your business even before you built it and to start attracting guests and bookings and everything else in a following in an audience. But it’s just incredible how this is developing daily. And do you think that would be a good idea, something to use in in that respect I mean, should people be worried about who is actually in the image Is there A-G-D-R-P thing here Is there a, an image protection Is there, you know, people, are they gonna turn around and say, why, why have you put me in your image on your glamping site How does it work Is it all basically made up or is it based on images of people on the web How, how does it work

Ben Kilner: So the, as with the sort of text generation, it’s a sort of pixel guesser. When you generate a an image in mid journey, you’ll see it starts out as this old sort of ghostly impressionistic type image. And it will fill out over time as these pixels become more and more certain and the, the images of humans that you mentioned, they are based off hundreds of thousands, millions of images of other humans out there. And as such, they are deemed to be your private. If you pay for midjourney and you create an image in Midjourney, it is deemed that you are, you own that image, you have the rights to use that anywhere commercially, commercially or privately. if you generate it, on a sort of non-paid for version, you can use it, but everyone else also has the right to use it. So that’s something you’d be aware of.

Ben Kilner: The, the risk of using it to create images for your business, which hasn’t yet started is that obviously the sort of false representation thing. that is definitely something to be aware of, but some of the images that you will get on there will be so customized to exactly what you want. They’ll be so much better than the images you’ll get anywhere, any, anywhere else. So really it is a very good place to start. If you wanted like a, a cozy log burning stove or a bowl of marshmallows, a close up on an nice wooden table. I mean that could have been got from any stock library anywhere, but it’s exactly the one you want. So I would definitely recommend it for that. The other thing that you can use are things like Canva, so Can Ride, I suspect you use a lot of, and it’s something I absolutely love.

Ben Kilner: They’ve got some magic edit tools and a magic, sort of fill tool in there as well, which allows you to select an object and then change it for any other object. So in theory you could take, take a photograph of your future glamping spot and ask it to put a tent in of the location, where there was grass. a much more powerful version of that is Photoshop. They’ve got this generative fill and is mindbogglingly powerful. it’s a sort of cross between mid journey and Photoshop and it’s just incredibly powerful. I’m aware that not everyone will be using Photoshop, but if you are employing someone who does it, who does use Photoshop, then you can just ask them to just drop your Safari tent into your meadow at the literally the click of a button. It will be done. So for creating mockups of what your future site will look like.

Ben Kilner: Definitely. you mentioned also, websites in there. I’m just gonna come back to that. So I know from personal experience, that can be one of the larger costs when setting up these businesses. if you head over to, a website called 10 Web, 10 web is a very powerful AI ima, website generator, and it will generate text and images for your business based off a, a relatively short input prompt. And yes, the images will be dodgy, you will need to switch them out, but it gives you the structure, for your website, which you probably would’ve had to have paid hundreds if not thousands of pounds for elsewhere. And once that’s, well, so that’s, that’s one way of doing it. Then the other way of doing it is duplicating someone else’s website. This is not something I recommend, but it is something that is available with 10 web, you drop in A URL and it will duplicate any website in any format into, into WordPress, and you can then edit it from there. so it’s, it’s available and to be used with caution of for obvious reasons. but it can be a massive time and cost saver.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm. This is just an incredible time, isn’t it And it’s also quite a scary time too, because if you think that if you have spent a long time building your website, building your business, creating the uniqueness that you have created over time, and someone can come along and take your website link and essentially mock up their own business based on yours and then step into your space and say, now I’m the expert, now I’m the person you need to come to now, I’m the business you need to book your holiday with. And, and they’ve done a fraction of the work that those people, who have gone before them have done. And I know that this is going to really create fear in a lot of people. I know in, in some industries, for example, in the photography space, you know, that’s creating a lot of fear amongst photographers who would normally have been paid to go to a business to set something up, to do a a photo shoot and, and spend a whole day getting these images right.

Sarah Riley: And now you can actually go to a, you know, mid journey and just put in a few well thought through prompts and you can get those images, without having to go to the huge expense of getting models, photographers and everything else, to represent your business. So I know that this is, as you’ve said before, hugely disruptive. It’s a massive, force for both good and bad. And we are going to see major changes over the coming years. And I know as a business owner myself, that’s made me want to learn more about this. I’m incredibly curious, I want to understand how and where this is going, especially when you start, you know, linking it to the whole ethos behind Web3, which is that you are going to potentially own these things that you are creating on the web and blockchain technology and all of that kind of stuff, which I know from experience when I’ve spoken to the people I’m supporting about it, they’ve firmly shoved their fingers in their ears and said, no, no, no, no, no, I don’t wanna listen to this anymore. No, it is too much, it’s too much. but how would you, or what would you say to someone who is feeling fear about this and where it’s going Because I think fear is a good way of describing it. Some people are feeling quite fearful about this, it, it, you know, my, I’m my two daughters, you know, what’s happening to their future with all of this and where is it going How, how would you, sum up, how people should be fit feeling about this major shift

Ben Kilner: it’s, it’s a, it’s a, that’s a tricky question. That is, so the, the reactions that I’ve seen, you’ve got the full head in the sand, you’ve got euphoric enthusiasm, and you’ve got sort of every shade in between. And for business owners especially, I think there really is, it’s imperative that people at least have a go at this and become familiar with the space to a degree where you can begin to use it or at least instruct someone in your team on how to use it. So if you don’t, let’s start with that. If you don’t, you, you run the risk of smaller teams being more agile, being able to do the same thing at a lower cost. And if you do do it, you will potentially, in the worst case, be able to keep up with them. In the best case, you may be able to exceed them and be able to do it faster and cheaper.

Ben Kilner: That’s what really what it boils down to. As for the bigger philosophical question around where we’re headed, it’s a, it’s an absolute minefield. I personally have been struggling with this, just as a simply, when we do delegate so much of our intellect to computers, what role will humans play on the planet Will there be some universal basic income, which we’re all paid and beyond that everyone’s just sort of waffling around painting. I mean, that’s, that’s, that is one potential future Personally, I, I suspect what will happen is over the next couple of decades we will have AI powered humans where they are ultra productive, ultra effective, and they can use AI to the best of their ability. And really they will just be so far ahead of their pure human compatriots that those people just won’t really stand a chance in the marketplace.

Ben Kilner: I do think that it is pretty much inevitable that we are going to head into an AI future. There’s talk of, sort of putting it, putting it on pause for a few years so that people can, put really good controls in place to make sure these AI models don’t go awol and go go nuts. but really it’s like a game of whack-a-mole. If you suppress it in let’s say the US which is currently the sort of world leader in ai, then all will happen is another country will think, oh, well great, I can now become the world leader. And let’s say for example, that could be China, who is probably the second most powerful AI country in the world. and then if they suppress it, then it’ll just pop up in Africa. You know, it, it just, it’s sort of, it’s a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy really.

Ben Kilner: As for what, how people adapt to that unknown future. It’s a really hard one to say. Just my personal philosophy is if you can take advantage of it, do, but if you can’t, then really focus on ways to differentiate yourself in the market, that could be an extra human contact with your clients. So that could be making sure you are there for every single meet and greet while you’ve got AI trundling around the background. and my personal approach to this, obviously I’m, I’m focusing on this AI business now, but ultimately an AI will take over my job. there will be AI advisors out there who will do a, probably a better job than me. And so my backlash to that is my sort of creative work. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve found that a YouTube channel and a social media following based off and rather odd contraption I created last year. And that’s my push away from that because frankly, an AI model will really struggle to create that human experience in the future. So human to human expertise like sales, like meet and greet, like hospitality, AI will really struggle to compete with that, in the sort of next couple of decades. So that’s what I would focus on whilst making sure that you’re using AI where you can in your business. Mm.

Sarah Riley: So I mean, in a way, oh, that was a really hard question. I’m really sorry for throwing that in your direction because it’s something we’re all struggling with and you dealt with it incredibly well. But I think that in a way what you’re saying is look at how it can help you and yet still remember that your guest, your customer is still going to want to have that personal interaction with a human and is going to really value that. And then also when you are using the ai, let’s say for an image or, or let’s say for text generating text, don’t just use it as it’s given to you through the ai. Definitely add your own personality, your own uniqueness to it. And that’s really where we all stand out, isn’t it As humans, we are all very, very different. We are all very separate.

Sarah Riley: We have our own personality, we have our own vibe and that we need to add that into everything that we generate through AI to make sure that it still has that. Because we’re all very different and unique. No one can replace us. That’s our, that’s our brand, our own individual brand. But I definitely think that we’re gonna see so much more of a bit of a takeover of people who are willing to embrace AI and what it can give us in individually and into our businesses. So I think we are definitely gonna see a bit of a takeover there. so it’s gonna be quite a frustrating time I think for some who may not want to get involved in all of this. So what’s the next steps do you think, for the industry as a whole in, in hospitality What, what would you say the next steps are Is it to just kind of wait and see or is it to really go out and search for those tools that can help us implement things quicker, more swiftly

Ben Kilner: I think the, the, the, the first steps, if not already done by your audience would be just to get a, a sort of a basic grasp of chat GBT and specifically chat GT four. And beyond that I would then get better at using chat GT four. That’s really, really it. The other tools out there, they’re quite niche and the analogy I like to use, it’s like are sort of very first computers where you had a screen, you had a keyboard. I don’t think we had a mouse on the first computer, first computers. And they didn’t, the computers didn’t really speak very well to each other. They had a DSL connections at best. And so that’s very much like our AI models today. They’re disparate, they don’t chat to each other very well and you have to command them with a command line pretty much as you used to the old computers.

Ben Kilner: So I would say focus on the very few that really bring you the most advantage to your business. The next step I think we will see is the large players out there, like Google, like Microsoft, really begin to incorporate it into their standard, offerings like the G Suite or Google workspace, which it now is called, where you will have an AI copilot in your word processor in your Excel spreadsheet and they will just all be there automatically and people will use them. So for the people who really don’t want to jump ahead of the curve, then just hold out until those tools come along, they will turn up and they’ll be in your face. they’ll, yeah, they’ll be in your face. You won’t be able to avoid them. And then beyond that, I think just keep an eye out for the really big step changes.

Ben Kilner: And here I’m thinking of robots. So being able to use a robot to do the cleaning within your units. Personally, if I had one, I would, yeah, obviously the cost saving there could be gigantic, even if you had to shell out a load of cash up front, if it’s gonna last you 10 years, then the cost per year will be minimal compared to a human. So that’s the next big step change. and then beyond that really buckle up for artificial general intelligence. when that comes along, we’ve hit that, what’s called the sort of in the ai ai space is the singularity, but the equivalent is the event horizon on black hole beyond which we don’t like, can’t escape that event horizon on black hole. We don’t know what happens beyond that. And so at that singularity point for ai, we just don’t know what’s gonna happen. Originally people thought it was what, 15 or so years away and now people are suggesting maybe a couple of years away from that. So buckle up for that. That would be a really interesting step change and potential sort of disturbances around that. that would be my advice for now near term and longer term.

Sarah Riley: So in terms of mindset and people understanding that they can make the best of this or they can make the worst of it, what would you say to somebody who needs to get their head wrapped around this and what mindset do they need to have

Ben Kilner: I’d go, I’d go, go back to the analogy of the AI intern that really just as reimagine this very clunky interface that you have to interact with with a keyboard as the interface to an ultra intelligent intern. If you begin to treat it more like a human, obviously that’s a little bit controversial in certain spaces, but if you begin to treat it more like a human, you will naturally begin to try and find ways to get the answers that you need from it rather than just thinking it’s a black box, I dunno how it works. It’s got human-like logical capability, it’s got human-like knowledge, interact with it like a human and it will interact with you, in the way that you want it to. So that AI in turn mindset is crucial. And the other one, which is important is remembering that AI models are an amalgamation of all sorts of different knowledge bases.

Ben Kilner: So that could be science, it could be philosophy, it could, it is pretty much everything out there. When you want to create, get an answer from ai, you need to give it a much more narrow down starting point. So imagine a big old heap of spaghetti rama fork in there, give it a twist and take out just the strands of knowledge that you need in order to get your answer. If you go to broad, you’ll get a very broad answer. So you need to be really quite narrow in the way you approach your, your initial prompts. So be very specific in what you need. So AI in turn and then that sort of spaghetti knowledge analogy. and I think open-mindedness, but with caution, open-mindedness because humans, we don’t really know where this is going. we just need to be aware of where it’s going.

Ben Kilner: And then cautious, especially from A-G-D-P-R point of view. So we’ve mentioned the fact that these AI models learn from the users themselves. So if I put in a bunch of commands, it will be learning from my commands over time. The exact information I put into that command probably will just be blurred up and blended with loads of other stuff. But there is a chance that someone’s name, someone’s address that I put into there could pop up in someone else’s answer in two years time once that model has been re retrained on that data. So be very cautious about the personal data that you put into these models. Keep it very bland, broad and keep the information to that sort of information which people could normally find online in any case. so that’s where I put the caution factor on the data you put in. Mm. So yeah, mindset, that’s, I think that probably covers it.

Sarah Riley: Mm. I’ve heard stories already that, images have been used by AI and they’ve got the copyright, watermark in there and it’s been jiggled about, and yet the copyright’s still there and they’re now being taken to court because AI used something that was copywritten. So that’s a test case really, isn’t it, to see where this is going. And as you said, you know, GDRP has a huge impact on every business around the world and the equivalent, legislation in the other countries as well. And we have to be very mindful for sure on the information that we’re sharing within all of that. But I like your idea about the future could mean that we all get a general wage and we’re freed up to do things that we love and we’re passionate about, such as supporting charities and, and those who are less fortunate than us.

Sarah Riley: I mean, that’s Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, isn’t it It says that once we’ve had our basic needs met, such as food, water, and wage and, and everything else, our minds and our bodies are freed up to be able to think outside of the box in helping other people and, and making humanity better. So I choose to believe that that will happen. , I’m not going to think about the fear of what could happen instead, , but I do believe that we can all help formulate something that goes in the right direction. We won’t do that if we stick our heads in the sand and pretend it’s not happening because it’s happening. And we are never gonna get away from this. We’re never gonna change what’s happening and we have to almost, you know, get on the wave and ride it because if we don’t get on the wave and ride it, we are just going to be floundering round in the water and potentially drowning.

Sarah Riley: So, that’s what I believe in. And I, a, a year and a half ago I went to a hotel and there was a robot wandering around the foyer. So this is happening, it’s, it’s everywhere. And that was actually based on kind of the Prema AI days and how far we have moved and changed in such a short period of time. I have no idea what’s gonna happen around the corner in the next couple of years, but it’s quite mind boggling to think about it. and then especially if you put it together with blocked chain technology and, and you know, the whole idea that everything has code and it’s all very, independent and unique, and that means people own things very significantly own things, including currency, which people will start paying, businesses in hospitality with their own, currency, which isn’t the usual currency that we see. And this is all connected, isn’t it This is all these developments are connected and are growing and getting bigger. so what’s next for Ben

Ben Kilner: So next is helping small companies and specifically small companies rather than large companies to incorporate AI into their businesses. so it’s simply where people are struggling to work out how best to do it, where they’ve got concerns around security and GDPR where they’ve got, a particular challenge with getting, chat PT to create the answer they want. That’s where I step in and help ’em out. And I have been building up sort of longer term strategies for certain companies, especially those who are going to be very, very disrupted in the future, like social media agencies, where there it is literally do or die for them. It’s not like hospitality where there’s lots of human interaction still, but in a social media agencies that’s, it’s a door die situation. So for them working with much sort of longer term strategies, but for the most, most part it will be sort of shorter term, getting people up to speed and making sure they’re ma they’re taking advantage of what’s out there.

Sarah Riley: Mm-Hmm mm-Hmm. And on a personal level, you’ve done so much charity, amazing charity work, you are such an adventurer and I believe you went up the Thames in a boat, is that right Tell me a bit about that.

Ben Kilner: So that was the, the most bizarre, bizarre thing. So last year I took a sabbatical and I decided to try and raise money for two mental health charities, the Lucy Rainier Foundation and Strong Men. And I thought I’d love to do an uber long bike ride, like Lands End to John Groats or a source to see Canoe Journey. And instead of either of those, I combined the two and I invented this new type of propulsion system for a boats, which you take two scrap bikes, you strap them onto your canoe and you pedal the front one and it paddles the back one a bit like a duck. And it, has been a sort of social media sensation. So it’s had just past a hundred million views recently, and I’ve now got over 125,000 followers and generated thousands of pounds of support for charity. And yeah, just the, the most bizarre thing and that journey was from the source of the terms. And I was intending to get to the sea, but I got kicked out Putney by the Port of London Authority who said my boat wasn’t seaworthy and they had a point

Ben Kilner: I cobbled it together in three days from two scrap bikes and two sheets of marine fly and it was fantastic. So that’s simmering away in the background and is my, personal pushback against the sort of AI space as I mentioned earlier, because it’ll be very hard for AI models to sort of replicate that human journey.

Sarah Riley: Yeah, absolutely. And you, you also had, you went to the Ukraine to help, support during the early days of the war. and so you really are truly, an adventurer who puts your money where your mouth is and you actually do it. And in amongst also, you know, building a glamping business and, doing things very differently, providing an off-grid style that no one else at the time had done. and have, you’ve now moved on from that soldier business and, and moved on to pastures new. But I think that’s really what I hope people get from this is that whole vision to think differently, think outside of the box to, look at what the opportunities are coming towards them because of this space and what’s happening in it. Not just thinking about the fear of it and the overwhelm, but the whole, okay, how can I use this to, help me And that’s really what you give example of regularly how you think outside of the box and you embrace things and you do things differently. so if somebody wants to find out more about you and what you’re up to and also follow your journey at the Thames . How would they find out more Where would they go

Ben Kilner: So for all things, weird and wonderful, wonderful contraptions, head to ben and there are various links there to YouTube and social media. And then for anything AI related, head over to AI in and there is a contact form there. Also some social media bits, but the best thing is just to get in touch via the contact form online.

Sarah Riley: Brilliant. Thank you so much, Ben, for your expertise today. I really appreciate it and I’m sure my listeners will too.

Ben Kilner: Absolute pleasure. Thank you Sarah.

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