AEO - Association of event organisers

3 key insights shaping the eventscape


3 key insights shaping the eventscape


Learnings from the International Working Group

Chris Skeith – AEO – Chief Executive Officer

As the easing of lockdown measures take effect across the world, the events industry sits tight in anticipation of the government’s next steps.


The past few months have been an emotional rollercoaster. We’ve all been through highs and lows and we’ve learnt so much. We’ve been anything but passive.

I’ve witnessed unprecedented collaboration with the greatest industry minds coming together to share insights, solve problems and determine what we want the future of events to look like and how to feasibly achieve it.

Global insight continues to be a driving force in helping us navigate the weeks and months to come.  So, on the back of the success of the last International Working Group, which looked at the industry’s status during the coronavirus pandemic in Germany and China, we ran another.

A record number of AEO members joined to hear from Michael Kruppe – SNIEC, China, Andreas Gruchow – Deutsche Messe AG, Germany, Simon Parker – Informa Markets, EMEA  and David Audrain – SISO, U.S.

We’d like to pass on a massive thank you to our chair, Simon Foster, and all contributors, for sparing the time and sharing their thoughts and approaches - in particular, to those who got up early and stayed up late!

From one region to the next, we heard about the reopening of exhibitions in China, the victory of differentiating exhibitions from mass gatherings in Germany, the balancing act of virtual and live events from EMEA and the importance of unified guidelines to ensure the safe running of events from America.

Success stories didn’t come easy but as we continue to work together and learn from each other, I am confident we will see many more.

While Chatham House rule does not allow me to share everything, it would be remiss to withhold some of the overarching insights.

Common themes to come through from all regions were as follows:

  1. Persistent government lobbying is vital in our fight to get events back in business – when the time is right.
  2. Setting out guidelines to minimise risk in a controlled way is paramount to government and exhibitor confidence and opening up for business. (An opensource guidelines document has now been released, which is being used globally with associations, governments, and all stakeholders to develop ‘local’ solutions)
  3. We are all wrestling with event density, and delivering customer value in a range of ways – some have been in planning stages for some time, others are brand new and incredibly innovative. Blending virtual and live will be key to the industry’s survival as we come out of the other side.

We look forward to welcoming AEO members to the next meeting and will continue to work collectively for the greater good of the industry.

  • "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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