AEO - Association of event organisers

EIA issues open letter to DCMS and BEIS


EIA issues open letter to DCMS and BEIS

11 Mar 2021
Dear Ministers,

Request for publication of information on the Events Research Programme

The Events Industry Alliance (EIA) represents the UK’s event and exhibitions organisers, venues, and suppliers - a sector that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was generating £11bn in economic activity and supporting 114,000 jobs. However, unlike many other parts of the UK economy, the exhibitions industry has been effectively shut since March 2020 due to national Covid-19 restrictions and faces additional unique challenges to resuming operations once restrictions are eased. 

The exhibitions sector therefore welcomed the Prime Minister’s statement on 22nd February 2021 and the associated Roadmap to Freedom document, however, we were surprised to hear about the creation of an ‘Events Research Programme’ and further pilots, given the three successful pilot schemes delivered in September 2020.

Nevertheless, we understand that the Events Research Programme will be a crucial element in establishing an evidence-based, data-led framework that will enable our sector to resume large scale events on or after 21st June. In our numerous conversations with ministers and officials from your departments the EIA has expressed its willingness to work closely with the Government to ensure a successful delivery of this programme and this remains the case.

However, we are extremely dismayed that nearly three weeks after the Roadmap announcement the business events industry has not received any formal information from Government about the Events Research Programme.

The lack of any information on the Events Research Programme, and what areas it will examine, who is the Business Events representative on the group, what criteria it might place on events and when it will report, makes any planning by the sector impossible ahead of 21st June. Furthermore other sectors, with arguably less COVID secure measures in place (for example shopping centres and non-essential retail), are included within the roadmap without the additional requirement and uncertainty of the programme.

We therefore request the urgent publication of detailed information on the Events Research Programme along with the issuing of specific guidance as to when the events and exhibitions sector, one of the hardest hit by this pandemic, will be given clarity about the basis on which it will be allowed to reopen.

Specifically, we request that:

  • Details are published outlining the factors that are being considered as part of the Event Research Programme;
  • A date by which the outcomes of the Events Research Programme will be published is provided;
  • The extent to which the Departments Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are collaborating on the development of the Events Research Programme; and;
  • The extent to which your departments are consulting with industry on the Events Research Programme.

The UK exhibitions industry is a hugely viable sector and offers a unique platform for tens of thousands of UK businesses to meet customers, generate sales and create employment. However without the publication of this information our sector faces a further, and unnecessary threat to its commercial position.  

Given that most major events and exhibitions require at least a three month lead time to take place, the Events Research Programme is an even more vital component of maintaining confidence in our sector than other sectors with similar research programmes. The lack of information is causing a crisis of confidence for many events and exhibitions that could conceivably take place after 21st June, with severe consequences for organisers, suppliers and venues across the UK. Publishing the outcomes of the Events Research Programme, either alongside or just prior to the reopening date, simply will not help this sector, as the decisions will have already been made by companies within the sector well in advance.

It is therefore vital that information, and a timeline, is published on the Events Research Programme without delay otherwise the sector will face a precipitous fall in confidence with a significant impact on the viability of many SME’s within our sector and further job losses.  

We hope that you will look favourably on this request. The EIA, its constituent organisations and members stands ready to support the Government in the operation of the Events Research Programme, which we firmly believe will set a path to the sustained and safe reopening of our sector.

Yours Sincerely,


Chris Skeith


Association of Event Organisers

Rachel Parker


Association of Event Venues


Andrew Harrison


Event Supplier and Services Association


  • "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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