60 seconds with the chair –Jonathan Smith - eGuide Working Group


60 seconds with the chair –Jonathan Smith - eGuide Working Group

29 Nov 2016

Educated at Park House School in Newbury,  Jonathan's list of experience and qualifications reads like a list of all you need to know to manage an effective event, from his SIA Licence to his NEBOSH and IOSH accreditation for Managing Safety in the Events Industry, and holder of DPS. A quick glance at Jonathan's LinkedIn profile reveals an extensive list of roles within various associations within and around the events industry, clearly marking out Jonathan's commitment to the association method of working within the industry. Jonathan is the AEV eGuide Working Group Chair.

Jonathan joined Farnborough International Airshow and Farnborough International Exhibition & Conference Centre in in 2007 after a career in the events industry that involved quite a lot of work with temporary structures. Jonathan is currently Head of Operational Development at Farnborough International (FIL). His personal interests include rugby and cricket in particular but any sport, and to keep busy outside of events, Jonathan’s partner, Michelle, runs a large equestrian livery yard where he can be regularly found.

1. What brought you into the event industry?
Arena Seating was founded by my father, so as a toddler and then a teenager with my parents on the build, events were in my blood. In time I became Managing Director, establishing Arena as one of the leading event suppliers not only within the UK but Internationally.

2. Why did you get involved with the association working groups?
I have always considered trade associations the best way of representing our industry and encourage / create best practice / standards.

3. What do you think the best show, exhibition or conference was last year?
Apart from Farnborough International Airshow of course, I’m always impressed by Mobile World Congress, Barcelona.

4. What will be the next big change in venues?
Dealing with the increasing commercial pressures back to back shows and build-up/breakdown times.

5. What piece of event tech is going to be indispensable in the future?
Data Management. You cannot afford to ignore data management.

6. What's your favourite quote, saying or motto?
“What you can’t measure, you can’t improve.” I am sure the people around me get bored of me saying it, but it is so true.

7. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Treat everyone, how you would yourself wish and expect to be treated.

8. Which historical event would you most like to host at your venue?
One of the events at London 2012 Olympics.

9. What film, book or TV series have you been recommending to others recently?
David Attenborough’s Planet Earth 2.

10. What music are you listening to at the moment?
“The Overtones”cheesy but the boys can definitely entertain.


11. If you could attend any event, in the past, present or future, what would it be?
England winning the Rugby World Cup in Australia 2007.



  • "Great day hosting our first AEV working group event!..WOW did I learn a lot and some great insights into how other venues work and the challenges they are trying to overcome. If you are a venue looking to network with other like minded professionals I would recommend looking at joining the AEV".
    Danielle Worker
    Corporate Events Team Leader, Silverstone Circuits Ltd
  • "“Great essential for a successful venue. The AEV provides a platform to establish consistent best practice in this field"
    Phil Wetz
    Retail & Catering Manager, ExCeL London
  • “The AEV provides collective representation for its member venues, turning individual commitment into a group effort"
    Paul Brough
    Venue Health & Safety Manager, Olympia London
  • "Proud to be part of this Cross Association discussion. I am confident in our ability to improve and progress our working platform through conversation".
    Amir Vered
    Head of eForce and IT, Olympia London (Chair of Cross Association Technology WG)
  • “The AEV is essential to the venue sector’s ability to cooperate and collaborate"
    Jazmin Beale
    Head of Marketing & Communications, Olympia London
  • “The AEV undertakes crucial work on behalf of event venues up and down the country to ensure our voice is heard. They reinforce the important role our sector plays in delivering economic impact, increasing trade, providing jobs and driving the visitor economy.”
    Lucy Merritt
    Head of Marketing and Communications, ExCeL London
  • AEV Membership is a key part of our business strategy; it has and will continue to be a core elements of our plan to support knowledge sharing in the industry and to develop both our team and the venue.
    Kate Vandenburg
    Marketing Director - Business Design Centre
  • Our team at ACC Liverpool feel indebted to the substantial work that the AEV do for our amazing industry. As the pillar association for venues across the country it’s a real privilege for our teams to participate in many of the working groups, learning and contributing to new processes which helps drive our industry forward on a national scale.
    Colm Graham
    Senior Exhibition Account Manager, ACC Liverpool
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    Head of Brand, Telford International Centre
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    Managing Director at The Kia Oval