AEO - Association of event organisers

AEO Supports Growth and Dynamism in Events


AEO Supports Growth and Dynamism in Events


The event industry is worth over £39 billion to the UK economy and has ambitions to drive investment of £48.4 billion by 2020 as laid out in the BVEP’s (Business Visits & Events Partnership) Overview of the UK Events Industry. Conferences and meetings deliver the lion’s share, with over 19 billion direct spend on goods and services, followed by £11 billion from trade and consumer exhibitions.

The Association of Event Organisers (AEO) represents UK exhibition and conference organisers and is part of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Events, and the Events Industry Board coordinated by DCMS, that seeks to promote the importance of the industry to UK Government and find ways of ensuring the UK remains competitive for inward investment and exporting events and UK business overseas.

Furthermore, AEO has recently launched its Global Study which shows that its members were responsible for driving revenues of £1.2 billion in 2014/15 from overseas events, an increase of 23% on the previous year. Although the industry is forecast to continue to grow, organisers have identified a number of areas affecting their ability to attract inward investment to the UK including ease of entry and increased costs compared to other markets. Potential solutions to this could be the introduction of special event visas and cost reduction measures such as considering how to reduce the impact of Air Passenger Duty and VAT on business events to attract visitors and exhibitors to existing UK events and to try and attract new peripatetic events into the UK.

In addition to operational considerations for maintaining competitiveness, organisers are also looking at how they can enhance the experience of exhibitors, visitors and delegates because this is what keeps them coming back year after year.  Keeping the content relevant and fresh is vital and organisers who can get this right are the ones who will continue to flourish. Fortunately, there are plenty of examples out there that nurture the communities they serve and make events fun, educational and tailored to a specific audience.

Trade events in the UK are learning from their consumer counterparts. Event organisers looking to target younger B2B audiences are developing festival style trade shows, that have taken the young, urban festival feel and translated it into a vibrant, dynamic business event (exhibition) with fantastic content and inspirational speakers. Another way of engaging a specific audience is to offer visitor packages by cooperating with other organisers who are running an event at the same venue. This enables the visitor or delegate to make the most of their leisure or business time and save money by visiting a number of different events on the same day. It tends to work particularly well for exhibitions targeting similar audience profiles, for example a gaming trade show and an adventure holiday event. It’s worth thinking about when planning the next event or launching a new show.

AEO also helps members support their customers, via its FaceTime initiative Launched in 2010, it provides resources that enable exhibitors to improve their performance, drive sales and enhance the customer experience as well as champion best practice. There are many ways exhibitors can make events more memorable for attendees by creating on stand experiences that are fun, interactive and engaging. Using the latest technology and gamification is a great way to appeal to competitive types for example.

FaceTime research has proven that 69% of attendees recommend brands they’ve seen at a show and 74% of visitors believe live events are the best form of marketing, which is twice as powerful as TV advertising. In addition, 32% of consumer and 34% of trade show attendees are considered high influence and spend twice as much as other visitors. The aim for both organisers and exhibitors is to create an experience that gives these high influencers something to talk about and attracts even more big spenders to future 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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