AEO - Association of event organisers

AEO Supports UK Business Going International


AEO Supports UK Business Going International


The AEO has a long and rich history of representing event organisers in the UK, but many people may not realise that the support the AEO offers its members reaches much further afield than the UK, seeking opportunities for growth and solutions to challenges on an international scale.

I’ve recently become the new Chair of the AEO’s International Organiser Group which has been running for just over five years. During that time we’ve launched a Global research study to understand the scale of international business that AEO members are involved in, we’ve organised an annual International CEO Summit and also arranged a number of successful international dinners. The aim of these initiatives is to understand the needs of AEO members, to facilitate sharing best practice and offer opportunities for members to learn how to successfully do business in different or challenging markets.

Each year the International Organiser Group sets the agenda for the markets or issues that the AEO will focus on. This is initially based on the findings of the annual Global Research Study which determines where AEO Members are looking to develop events, the type of events they are hoping to launch, their preferred method of market entry and the regions and countries that are providing the biggest opportunity and/or the biggest challenge for them.

Following the research last year, for example, we organised international dinners covering China, Germany, Japan and Las Vegas which are all very different markets, with strong, contrasting national cultures and a different level of maturity for large scale events. Each of these markets, however, holds its own appeal to UK based AEO members looking to expand overseas. Each member who attended the dinners left with greater insight from the guest speaker and their peers into negotiating with local venues, the absolute need to understand cultural differences and the economic and political considerations to take on board when doing business in one of these countries.

This year has highlighted that 55% of AEO Members who took part in the research are definitely looking to expand operations abroad within the next two years. The majority of these planned events will be organised solely by the organiser rather than via a partner, license or franchise and 80% will be trade only with the remainder being a mix of trade and consumer.

The current top three overseas regions, with 58% of member run events, are Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union states, and North America. For 2017 and beyond, the markets with the greatest opportunity for further growth have been identified as Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America and the most challenging markets are the Far East, MENA and Africa. Barriers to launching events in these and other markets include language constraints, inflexible venues, political and/or economic instability, security concerns, challenges with infrastructure and dealing with local suppliers and trade unions. With these challenges in mind, the first two international dinners that the AEO is hosting this year will focus on the Middle East and Iran, and India.

In addition to the international dinners and the CEO Summit, AEO has Working Groups that focus on doing business on a global scale for those members who are already operating overseas or see an opportunity for future growth beyond the shores of the UK. Both the International Organiser Group and the International Health, Safety and Security Group serve these members by bringing dedicated professionals together to learn from shared experiences and understand how to avoid or respond to issues such as; protecting intellectual property, health and safety standards, recognising and calculating risk, site security, working within national legislation and general cultural differences to doing business.

We may be an island but there’s a big world out there, 50% of this year’s research respondents generate more than £26 million turnover from their international business, with 29% generating more than £101 million. Whether you are already doing, or considering doing, business in mature or emerging overseas markets, the AEO can provide the intelligence to support your expansion plans.

  • "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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