AEO - Association of event organisers

The events industry is making waves...


The events industry is making waves...


But is it enough to turn the tide of government opinion?

Even as Brexit looms and geopolitics continue to throw us all into a spin, the events industry shows no sign of wavering.

In fact, with a reported £11 billion economic impact and over 1000 exhibitions taking place up and down the UK, the industry has never felt more resilient or been more resolved to achieve necessary representation at government level.

If you’re asking; “why all the noise about government representation?”, think about this; if decisions were being made about your growth and future, how much of a say would you want in it? That’s essentially the point.

Any legislation, regulation or policy made without industry representation, while well-meaning are misguided. We want to be integral to any policy maker’s decision-making process that might positively or negatively impact the industry, safeguarding our progress and spurring on our growth.

What makes the events industry so special compared with other sectors?

The UK events industry is one of the biggest job providers and contributors to the UK.

Our Global Event Study released late last year revealed £2.1 billion in turnover is generated by just 23 UK based AEO members from their overseas events.

That figure presents a 36% increase, year-on-year, since the first report released in 2012.** This would place the events sector in the top ten of largest service exporters in the UK* making a huge impact on our economy.  

We have the perfect platform to promote UK businesses at home and abroad and draw in international trade and visitors, which lends itself to an abundance of business opportunities.

The government has its hands full, so why now?

This is not a new strategy. AEO has lobbied the UK Government consistently over the years to ensure that the events industry is firmly on its agenda.

We have been working tirelessly to receive ministerial recognition and have already taken huge strides forward.

AEO and its members have relationships with regulators and policy influencers such as HSE and BSI, where opinions are sought on the everchanging regulatory landscape. This is hugely beneficial to various AEO and cross association working groups, where those opinions are filtered down to.

2015 also saw the formation of the events industry board (EIB) on which AEO has a seat alongside representatives from Government departments including Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for International Trade (DIT), VisitBritain and other destination marketing organisations – a huge win for our sector.

Why would more representation be such a big win?

For one, it means having a representative board advising government on implementing the new UK Government’s International Business Events Action Plan (2019-2025). The plan outlines how the government will support the business events industry in attracting, growing and creating international business events to bring even greater numbers of business travellers to UK shores. It also looks for ways to improve and promote the UK events sector and acts as a sounding board and increases dialogue between Ministers and the industry.

Additionally, the EIB has created working groups including one focussed on talent, with a brief to review, attract and retain talent. All positive steps in the right direction.

There’s little doubt the events industry has been making waves. We are beginning to get recognition for the contribution our sector makes and while we’re always happy about progress, we feel we deserve more. And greater support to make an even deeper impact.


*(2016 ONS Service Export Stats)

**FaceTime Economic Impact 2012


  • "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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