Using AI to Predict our Visitor Numbers

We are using artificial intelligence to help predict visitor numbers and manage the flow of guests through The Palace.

We have joined forces with Oxford Brookes University to develop innovative approaches to smart tourism and heritage management through AI-enabled real-time data.

The plan is to build on existing and new sources of data to produce algorithms for predicting visitor numbers and profiles, as well as understanding live visitor flows on our site.

AI will also be used to enable better planning and management of staff, logistics, supplies, maintenance and hospitality.

“We’ll be looking at two main areas of the visitor experience as part of the project,” said our Head of Innovation, David Green.   

“A new ‘Customer Insight and Prediction’ module will focus on predicting visitor numbers and will allow us to model for different scenarios, such as weather conditions and related visitor behaviour. 

“The second part of the project will focus on mapping out what the visitor journey through Blenheim looks like, from the moment they book a ticket online, to the moment they arrive and enjoy Blenheim Palace.

“Once we understand what visitors do, we hope to create a system that can help staff anticipate visitor needs and deliver the best possible guest experience,” he added.

This project has been funded by ESRC and Innovate UK via the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme.

The work will be carried out by KTP Associate Dr Yayoi Teramoto, a recent PhD graduate from Oxford University, with assistance from Dr Matthias Rolf from the School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics and Dr Paul Jackson and Dr Diana Limburg of the Oxford Brookes Business School.

“This is a very special partnership for the University. As well as collaborating with such a world-famous visitor attraction, it will also involve a close working relationship between Computing and Business academics at Oxford Brookes,” said Dr Paul Jackson.

This blending of talents is also reflected in the choice of KTP Associate. Before joining the project, Yayoi was previously an Oxford Policy Engagement Network Fellow working with the Emerging Technologies Science Policy Team at the Royal Society.

Her background in cross-disciplinary research has focused on understanding how computational tools can be used to effectively generate insights for problems in Neuroscience, Digital Humanities and the Social Sciences – experience likely to prove vital to the KTP team at Blenheim.

The partnership with Oxford Brookes is expected to run for 32 months and will also engage with a range of partners from across the heritage and visitor attraction sector.

“If successful, we believe the system could prove to be an extremely useful tool for a range of other heritage and visitor attractions here in the UK, enabling managers to anticipate variations in visitor numbers and adapt their responses throughout the organisation accordingly,” added David.