It’s been an extremely busy but rewarding 12 months since I became chief executive of the AEO. Firstly, I’d like to pass on my appreciation to Paul Michael who has done an excellent job as chair of the AEO.
We’re in a great position to build on the good work we’ve achieved over the past year with new chair Simon Kimble, executive chairman of Clarion Events, who is supported by vice chair Paul Byrom, managing director of Upper Street Events.
The AEO has a strong, loyal membership of leading event organisers from a variety of commercial backgrounds and we’ve welcomed a further eight new members so far this year. Although they differ in terms of their offer or audience, they all quite rightly have one thing in common, a desire for an industry association that delivers value to their business, staff and customers.
This year we have asked the same question many times - what does success look like for your business?
The response has naturally depended on a number of different factors whether it’s the maturity of the business, expansion plans, market challenges, audience engagement or challenges faced by internal teams.
In representing our members’ interests, we’re not just here to listen, we have to do something about it - make necessary changes and spearhead causes that will support our members’ growth and development.
Having focused on gaining recognition for the importance of the industry to the UK economy, we very much hope to have secured a seat on the ‘soon to be formed’ DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) Event Industry Board – which reports into the Interministerial Group on Tourism. This will enable the events industry to have a voice at a governmental level to respond to challenges and provide insight on future industry growth opportunities both in the UK and internationally.
At our international dinners, members share experiences, thoughts and suggestions on operating in overseas markets, which helps them make important business decisions to reap the rewards and avoid pitfalls of international expansion. Our next international event is an American lunch on 20th November; contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending.
All groups that we run throughout the year are continually future gazing to identify potential issues that could affect our members’ businesses and, in order for AEO to use its precious resources to best effect, it is ultimately our members, working groups and council who decide the route to facing challenges and benefitting from opportunities.
This year, for example, the creation of the new Ops and International Ops Working Groups, has contributed to cross industry collaboration which provided clarity on how the new CDM regulations affect all event industry stakeholders before, during, and post implementation.
The FaceTime Group has focused on industry promotion and delivering great value to help members’ customers maximise their investment in events by holding four one day conferences, launching new guides and webinars. Some of the guides will soon be available in different languages and the next webinar titled “grow your business” will take place on 18 November, members can get their customers to register through the website facetime.org.uk.
We’ve also been building on the events industry community feel by reviewing and improving our own signature events. Content has been critiqued to within an inch of its life, making sure it is insightful, thought provoking and relevant and offers plenty that the industry can take away and put into practice.
We know through post event feedback that our networking opportunities are also delivering the right connections at the right time and in the right place so that delegates can network, learn and hopefully have fun without impacting on the day job. The AEO Conference in September was a great example of the progress being made via the Events Working Group.
Building communities is also the theme for the forthcoming AEO Marketing and Operations Forums which is taking place at BDC on 29 January.
This article was first published in the November issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne