AEO - Association of event organisers

Chris meets Pope Francis


Chris meets Pope Francis


Last week, more than 100 exhibition representatives from around the globe arrived in Rome for the UFI Global CEO Summit.

I’m going to cut straight to the chase on what was a hugely pivotal moment for me. I shook hands with Pope Francis!

From a professional standpoint, I was there for the content and the networking, overlooking the impact the pope’s blessings for the industry would have on me.

I’ll take a moment to share why this event, and being in the presence of His Holiness sent such a powerfully positive message to me personally and to the industry at large.

A time to reflect

Rome of all places was hugely symbolic.  A city of rich culture, ideas and innovation. What setting could better reflect what we stand for as an industry?

The pope shone a light on the power we have within exhibitions to promote progress on issues of “high social and ethical relevance” saying that “together we can do our part and exert our influence for a better, fairer world.”

I sat on that for a minute and a feeling of immense pride washed over me.

Every day, this industry strives for progress. Whether it’s to be more diverse and inclusive, have a better understanding of our industry friends at home and abroad, bring people closer together or shine a light on sustainability, we’re thinking about it.

Pope Francis also highlighted the positive impact exhibitions have on “regional economies and labour markets”, adding that they illustrate “significant opportunities for showcasing to the wider world, the rich diversity and beauty of local cultures and ecosystems.”

I remind my team daily about how lucky we are to do what we do –  we’re making a difference and taking huge steps forward. We’re meeting remarkable people, and having an amazing time doing it.

The summit forced me to take a step back, reflect and appreciate the significance of what we do.

Of course, meeting Pope Francis was an honour. Working in this industry? Well, the honour is all mine.


- Chris Skeith, Chief Executive of AEO 

  • "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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