AEO - Association of event organisers

AEO and AEV join forces to deliver inaugural UK CEO summit


AEO and AEV join forces to deliver inaugural UK CEO summit


Last month saw the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and the Association of Event Venues (AEV) come together to deliver the first-ever UK CEO Summit at Stoke Park on the 31st October 2019.

The objective? To build a framework of mutual cooperation between organisers and venues, to enrich the customer experience, preserve their businesses and see growth for all.

Mike Seaman, UK Organiser Group Chair from Raccoon Events and Dan Thurlow, AEV Chair from the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) were interviewed for a balanced view of the day and here’s what they thought:

What were your expectations of the day?

Dan -  “An honest and open discussion about how to work well together, appreciate the challenges and objectives on both sides but ultimately, working towards the same goal – enjoyable and successful events.”

Mike – “I was a bit nervous and thought it might be adversarial. It wasn’t - the conversations were enlightening, robust and constructive.”

What were the positive outcomes/highlights of the day?

Dan – “Some new relationships formed and the afternoon created a good platform for more collaborative discussions in the future. There was a desire to share existing insight to help focus on the customers’ needs and experience which can be developed quite quickly.”

Mike – “This was a really positive first step. I think that over time, this will become a key point in the calendar for organisers and venues to work together to improve outcomes for the whole industry.”

Where do you see the future of the industry heading?

Dan – “Thinking about the UK and Internationally, I believe the outlook is positive so long as we acknowledge and address some of the areas highlighted in the industry research. Clearly there is a focus on sustainability and customer experience, how we can use and share data to gain the insight that creates highly relevant events and personalised experiences.”

Mike – “Events are more important than ever, with face-to-face gatherings in high demand amongst increasingly digitised communities. The rise of the experience economy is a huge opportunity but customers are demanding more, particularly around key topics such as connectivity, sustainability and tech.”

The attendees described Mike Rusbridge as the perfect Chairman. Having worked for both organisers and venues, he brought great balance to the table, using his experience to add weight to the debate.


The event attracted top-level attendees from both sides, who all welcomed more events like this in the future, that encouraged continual progress of the sector – a  huge move forward in the right direction.

Attendees included:

  • Organisers from Brand Events, Clarions Events, Diversified, F2F Events, Media10, Montgomery Group, Raccoon Events and Reed Exhibitions.
  • Venues from Event City, ExCeL London, Messe Frankfurt Ltd, Olympia London, SEC, The BDC and the NEC.
  • Chris Skeith, chief executive of AEO and Rachel Parker, director of AEV also attended.
  • "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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