AEO - Association of event organisers

I love it when a plan comes together


I love it when a plan comes together


I love it when a plan comes together

 On the 9th January 2020, the AEO International Group set out a new and bold strategy for the year ahead at their start of the year CEO summit. Little did anyone know the world would change a matter of days later.

 Since over half of AEO members operate around the world, the International Group is a long-established and active AEO working group. The organisers in this group run over 1000 international events from their UK HQs, generating £2.1bn in turnover. Leading to our sector being a Top 10 service exporters in the UK.

The working group typically organises international dinners focussing on key regions and conducting research projects. For 2020, they were keen to broaden the conversation and engage more members in the debates and discussions.

  Last week the first International Group meeting took place. The purpose was to build on activities of years past, talk more about ‘current affairs,’ and extend the networking, sharing, and debating. I’d say we met the majority of the objectives, with the exception of networking in the bar! Current affairs are aplenty at the moment, and whilst our conversation became quite global, we did have a focus on the situation in Asia. Ironically, the Chair, Simon Foster, and Vice, Damion Angus, had already discussed a focus on the Far East on other calls, just proving the timing was perfect to take a deeper dive into the latest developments.

We welcomed 50% of members with an international portfolio, who heard the very latest situation from key players in both Shanghai and Hong Kong. The lifting of lockdown, mass gatherings, and social distancing were hot topics of conversation.  As well, much was said on the control measures and potential new landscapes for events, in particular infrastructure and registration.

 Whilst no one is ever able to predict the future, the attendees discussed current and future approaches to creating safe environments for their customers – a workflow AEO is already undertaking with our UK Operations, and International Health Safety and Security Groups, plus broader engagement with other associations both domestically and internationally. As reported in our daily digest last week, we are part of a task force set up by DCMS looking at event recovery and potential scenarios post lockdown. Member insight will play heavily in potential plans.

 We will need to explore more the topic of customer relations, specifically, building confidence with our customer base. Many are feeling a pent-up demand,  with buyers and sellers keen to meet to do business, however, we know there are still a number of practical challenges to overcome. To name just a few, international travel, reduced budgets, and the re-proving of the value of face to face marketing in the new (next?) normal world.

The next meeting is already in the planning stage, with most likely representation from the US, and Middle East, and a return to Asia for further updates, as for certain things will have changed by then.


Chris Skeith


Association of Events Organisers

  • "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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