In-house crews join AEO line-up

Venue-owned exhibition organisers are forging closer links within the industry. Centre Exhibitions, (CE) the in-house organising arm of the NEC, was poised to join the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) as Marketing Event went to press and Clarion Events has entered into talks concerning membership.

Venue-owned exhibition organisers are forging closer links within the industry. Centre Exhibitions, (CE) the in-house organising arm of the NEC, was poised to join the Association of Exhibition Organisers (AEO) as Marketing Event went to press and Clarion Events has entered into talks concerning membership. The move follows the AEO’s decision in May to relax the restrictions on venue-owned organisers joining. Historically, in-house organisers were believed to have too many conflicts of interest to achieve full membership. “A few years ago there was a fall out between our organisers and venue-owned organisers. But after constructive discussions in May we have decided that these companies should now be members,” said AEO director-general Trevor Foley. “We were always mindful that too many of those organising companies were outside the membership.” CE director Andy Gibb is upbeat about joining the AEO.“We are an expanding organisation so it makes sense to join. We see it as quite a normal thing for us to do,” he said. “There are many benefits from being part of the AEO such as the training programme and the sharing of and access to information.” CE plans to expand but Gibb does not see CE competing with the bigger organisers in the industry. “There is room for a vibrant in-house organiser but we are not going to compete with the key customers at the NEC. We’re not challenging companies like Reed,” Gibb added. Earl’s Court and Olympia’s (ECO) in-house organising arm Clarion Events expressed an interest in AEO membership following the appointment of former Haymarket Exhibitions chief Simon Kimble as managing director (Marketing Event, June). “Hopefully, it is likely to happen soon,” said Foley. “Kimble’s views are to be expected with his background in the industry.” Kimble believes AEO membership is important for a united industry. “Its activities, such as its training programmes, are excellent and it helps the industry to become more professional,” he said. AEO membership stands at 200 and has grown 300% in three years. AEO chairman Peter Osborne said: “Foley called me to say we had hit 200 members. I replied ‘I’d like to hit the ones that aren’t in membership’.”

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