26 Nov 2019

Last month saw the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) come together to deliver the first-ever UK CEO Summit at Stoke Park on the 31st October 2019.

The objective? To build a framework of mutual cooperation between organisers and venues, to enrich the customer experience, preserve their businesses and see growth for all.

Mike Seaman, UK Organiser Group Chair from Raccoon Events and Dan Thurlow, AEV Chair from the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) were interviewed for a balanced view of the day and here’s what they thought:


What were your expectations of the day?

Dan -  “An honest and open discussion about how to work well together, appreciate the challenges and objectives on both sides but ultimately, working towards the same goal – enjoyable and successful events.”

Mike – “I was a bit nervous and thought it might be adversarial. It wasn’t - the conversations were enlightening, robust and constructive.”

What were the positive outcomes/highlights of the day?

Dan – “Some new relationships formed and the afternoon created a good platform for more collaborative discussions in the future. There was a desire to share existing insight to help focus on the customers’ needs and experience which can be developed quite quickly.”

Mike – “This was a really positive first step. I think that over time, this will become a key point in the calendar for organisers and venues to work together to improve outcomes for the whole industry.”

Where do you see the future of the industry heading?

Dan – “Thinking about the UK and Internationally, I believe the outlook is positive so long as we acknowledge and address some of the areas highlighted in the industry research. Clearly there is a focus on sustainability and customer experience, how we can use and share data to gain the insight that creates highly relevant events and personalised experiences.”

Mike – “Events are more important than ever, with face-to-face gatherings in high demand amongst increasingly digitised communities. The rise of the experience economy is a huge opportunity but customers are demanding more, particularly around key topics such as connectivity, sustainability and tech.”

The attendees described Mike Rusbridge as the perfect Chairman. Having worked for both organisers and venues, he brought great balance to the table, using his experience to add weight to the debate.

CEO Summit

The event attracted top-level attendees from both sides, who all welcomed more events like this in the future, that encouraged continual progress of the sector – a  huge move forward in the right direction.

Attendees included:

  • Organisers from Brand Events, Clarions Events, Diversified, F2F Events, Media10, Montgomery Group, Raccoon Events and Reed Exhibitions.
  • Venues from Event City, ExCeL London, Messe Frankfurt Ltd, Olympia London, SEC, The BDC and the NEC.
  • Chris Skeith, chief executive of AEO and Rachel Parker, director of AEV also attended.


  • "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
  • We have benefited hugely from all of the insight, discussion, events and networking, but it has also meant that we have been able to give back to the industry by sharing our unique experiences and professional knowledge and allowing our employees to help lead and shape the Association from the inside.
    Mathew James
    Head of Brand, Telford International Centre
  • “The AEV has been an invaluable asset to us as a company and the wider industry, helping to lobby on the industries behalf, consolidating and distributing information and facilitating vital knowledge sharing.”
    Charlie Hodgson
    Managing Director at The Kia Oval