AEO - Association of event organisers

Project Confidence – preparing for the ‘new norm’ in events


Project Confidence – preparing for the ‘new norm’ in events


If you’re in the business of event marketing, chances are, you’ve found yourself asking what on earth a pandemic means for your 2020 marketing plan.

With some, if not all of your plan thrown out of the window, the time is NOW to back the truck up to customer-centricity.

Your customers’ attitudes and behaviours surrounding events are no longer what they once were. And their confidence? Their confidence is going to be a major driving force in the survival of our shows and the industry we all love.

Enter ‘Project Confidence’

Tuesday 19th of May saw the inaugural ‘Project Confidence’ working group, made up of some very talented event marketers across AEO, AEV and ESSA membership, come together to discuss a unified approach to managing stakeholder confidence.

The objective? To send a uniform message to our audiences, which instils a renewed confidence in live events on the other side of the pandemic. One which prioritises their safety above all, without compromising on the value they derive from live events.

Key considerations to factor into our message


Riding the wave of consumer sentiment is crucial in sustaining good stakeholder relationships.

Our customers are human, just like us. You’re likely not thinking about booking tickets for the next event during the lockdown, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re not either. Our communication should be respectful of that.

If the time isn’t right to be promoting your event, can you offer something different? Free content is a good way to keep them engaged.

An interesting point raised in the discussion was that changes in government guidance often sees a shift in consumer behaviour - e.g. the government’s easing of restrictions is likely to see consumer confidence on the up.

Anything we put out into the ether seen to be contradictory to the sentiment of the government could portray us in a negative light.


Event stakeholders want to know they’re in safe hands and it’s our job as an industry to make sure every measure has been taken to minimise risk and our job as marketers to communicate this.

With the recent news in Germany of the separation of exhibitions from mass gatherings, we have the advantage of communicating messages which promote well managed and controlled environments.

Many of us will be guilty of displaying pictures of packed halls in our event communications and on our websites. If we want to give reassurance, we must be quick to change how the face of events looks to our customers to make them feel safe.

While safety will be important to our community our communication must strike a balance between safety and enjoyment. Nobody wants to jump a million hoops to be a part of an event - people still want to connect and have fun!

Embracing the ‘new norm’

Whether we like it or not – events will change for the foreseeable future, with a greater shift towards hybrid events.  A wonderful collision of digital and live.

Technology will be paramount offsite but we must begin to look at how technology can support us in managing density onsite - at entrance points and hot spot areas using infrared and heat maps.

Fear of the impact this may have on the bottom line may mean that embracing the new norm is met with some resistance – but we must adapt to thrive and see this as an opportunity to deliver value in other places.

The good news is…

Customers want to continue the relationship and even during lockdown have demonstrated an appetite to get back to live events when the time is right. These times have set apart digital and live and the unique value they bring.

We are in control of our floorplans and have the flexibility to create the necessary space which adheres to approved guidelines.

The last two months have taught us just how much we crave human interaction - so while the return to live events will be gradual, they’ll be better than ever before.


We thank all those who contributed to the discussion and look forward to the next meeting.


  • "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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