AEO - Association of event organisers

AEO Chief Executive Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List


AEO Chief Executive Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

11 Jun 2021

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) is pleased to announce its chief executive officer, Chris Skeith, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours List 2021 for services to the events industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO of the AEO since 2014, Skeith has made it his mission to promote the UK events industry and help drive member interests. This year, as the AEO celebrates its 100-year anniversary, and the UK continues to feel the effects of the pandemic, the work of the association has never been so critical to the future success of the sector, and therefore, this honour of a leading voice in the industry is especially meaningful.

The AEO, as part of the Events Industry Alliance (EIA), a cross-association coalition, which also includes the AEV (Association of Event Venues) and ESSA (Event Supplier and Services Association), has been tirelessly advocating on behalf of the 114,000 people, involved in the organising, supplying, and hosting of UK events, as well as the 180,000 exhibitors who rely on exhibitions each year for the success of their businesses. Coming together as one voice on behalf of the industry, Skeith and his counterparts, Rachel Parker, AEV, Andrew Harrison, ESSA, have fought for trade and consumer business events to “be seen, be heard, and be understood” throughout the pandemic.

The events industry faced - and is still facing - ever changing, and often compounding, concerns. Chris remained a resolute advocator for the industry through each challenge that arose, with notable activities like: getting official guidance to separate organised events from mass gatherings, quantifying the detrimental economic impact of the postponement of events on trade in the UK, aggressively advocating on behalf of the significant amount of job loss in the sector, delivering health and safety guidelines for robust re-opening protocols, and ensuring the financial support for the sector included businesses of all scope and size.  

Simon Parker, Chair of the AEO, said, “On behalf of the AEO, and the wider events industry, I would like to thank Chris for all of his work during the pandemic, and to congratulate him on this tremendous honour. These campaigns were made possible with a large amount of dedication and support from many people, however in particular, we have Chris’s consistency, responsiveness, and positivity to thank for ensuring that through each new tier programme, reopening date, furlough scheme, and health and safety discussion, the events industry was part of the constructive dialogues with the appropriate officials. We are incredibly fortunate to have had Chris’s steadfast leadership during this critical period.”

Skeith said, “I am overwhelmed by this recognition. I honestly could never have imagined something like this when I started in the events industry 20+ years ago. I am incredibly grateful and honoured, and I truly believe this tribute is a reflection of the work of our entire industry during the pandemic. Every organiser, venue, and supplier, in the business events community, as well as our partners within the government, came together when we needed to protect and assist our industry. We realised straight away the only way to be productive during this time, when so much was at stake, was to do what the events industry is great at - to build connections between people. Through everything we did, and will continue to do, we remember and focussed on the individuals involved, their lives and livelihoods, and the fact that together, we were all going through the same uncertain situation. This helped us to build strong bridges and to be solution-driven.”

The events industry is still a long way from recovered, and certainly, our world will look very different to the last large exhibitions held before the pandemic. Therefore, the work of the AEO continues, now with a stronger foundation than pre-pandemic. In the short term, the focus will be on pushing for the reopening of events - without capacity limits, finding ways to support the rebuilding of workforces - reskilling, or upskilling, talent for this next evolution of events, and to rebuild confidence in event teams - to be able to host events, and exhibitors and visitors, to attend in person events. Longer term, the AEO, along with its partners, will build on this enhanced relationship with the government to help drive key economic development priorities for the UK, deliver policy ambitions, and help the industry become data rich to demonstrate the economic impact, and potential, of business events.

  • "Broadway Events joined the AEO on the Enterprise Membership. We’ve already taken advantage of the many benefits including the excellent FaceTime Masterclasses and training guides for exhibitors."
    Emma Barrett
    Broadway Events
  • "We are a member of the AEO because it is a proactive association for the events industry. As an organiser it provides us with high value ideas, networking, guidance and information."
    David Harrison
    PPMA Group
  • "This year, the association has led working groups to address industry issues and put on some amazing events full of insightful content for both organisers and, through the AEOs FaceTime initiative, exhibitors. In addition, the AEO has represented the industry at a Governmental level to raise awareness of the importance of events to the UK economy."
    Paul Byrom
    Upper Street Events
  • "I genuinely believe that if you’re involved in organising events you should become a member of the AEO."
    Simon Kimble
    Clarion Events
  • "Our membership of the AEO represents real and tangible value for UBM - it provides fantastic networking opportunities, practical training for our team as well as valuable insight into the state of our industry."
    Simon Parker
    Informa Markets
  • "As an Association business, we appreciate the excellent work the secretariat of the AEO do for our community. From the events side of our business, the AEO provides an excellent return on investment, providing thought leadership, fantastic networking, brilliant awards, excellent research and FaceTime, a valuable tool to tell our markets why exhibitions and events should be an essential part of the marketing mix."
    Neil Felton
  • "AEO’s networking and member meetings are valuable for individuals at all levels within our organisation. The promotion of our sector to the outside world, to government, authorities and business at large is another vital aspect of the AEO’s purpose for members, many of whom, like my company, work on events throughout the world."
    Stephen Brooks
    Mack Brooks Exhibitions
  • “Knowledge is power and the AEO dinners are certainly powerful, there is always a wealth of knowledge at the table. Insightful presentations make for a constructive and extremely social way to learn from the experts who’ve done it before. I attended the Japanese evening and gained really valuable insight about the culture and how best to communicate with a local audience.”
    John Whitaker
    Vice President Marketing, Data & Digital , dmg events
  • "We have the opportunity to contribute positively to the industry as well as gaining valuable insight and advice. There’s no need to spend valuable time and money reinventing the wheel when you have so many experienced professionals in AEO membership to learn from”
    Emma Cartmell
    CHS Group
  • "JOINING THE AEO HAS BEEN FANTASTIC! Being able to gift our customers with free places at the FaceTime masterclasses, learn alongside industry peers and seek advice to common challenges is invaluable”
    Sharon Azam
    GovNet Communications
  • I just wanted to send my most sincere thanks for everything that you and the AEO team are doing to help navigate the events industry through the pandemic. The working groups and communication from the AEO have been excellent and I’m really appreciative of being part of such a wonderful organisation.
    Simon Burns
    ICHF Events
  • I think what the AEO has been doing during this tough time has been exceptional.
    Greg Cherry
    QD Events LTD
  • It is so useful to hear from your peers at this time. Please pass my thanks to Ruth and the BTIG panel
    Dan Assor
    CloserStill Media
  • Just wanted to thank you and Ruth this morning for the Zoom meeting - it was really interesting to hear how things are moving along in the virtual/hybrid meeting/exhibitions. All very new to me, so a lot to digest.
    Maureen Wright
    Optic UK
  • The session this morning was fantastic. We are right in the midst of this and the information was so useful. We can apply it immediately
    Claire Adams
  • The AEO provides an opportunity to make a difference, to work with other companies for the good of the industry as a whole, but beyond that, it provides it’s members with valuable insight and tangible benefits to grow your business, upskill and engage your teams. For those reasons, our membership is in indelible ink on the each annual budget. In short, if you aren’t a member, you are missing out.
    Ed Tranter
    73 Media




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