Event professionals flock to BDC for AEV Conference 2021


Event professionals flock to BDC for AEV Conference 2021

30 Nov 2021 by: AEV Team

The Association of Event Venues (AEV) is celebrating the success of its 5th annual conference, held on Friday, November 26, 2021, at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London, with the theme ‘Disruption: the new norm’. 

Despite the onset of storm Arwen and a tube strike on the day, the much-anticipated event attracted over 160 event professionals, many of whom were meeting up face to face for the first time in over a year. The conference was designed to make the most of this opportunity and it featured a more interactive format, continuously inviting feedback and questions from the audience. Samme Allen, a professional event emcee, led the conference throughout the day, actively raising engagement amongst delegates with her trademark humour and energy.

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After a warm welcome from Max Bull, AEV Chair, Allen introduced Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society, who appeared via a pre-recorded video message with words of support and appreciation for delegates. Huddleston thanked venues for their role as nightingale hospitals and vaccination centres, and sincerely recognised the contribution of the events industry to the country, its resilience and its importance to building the economy back.

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The conference then heard from a variety of speakers, beginning with former Royal Marine and MD of Quirk Solutions, Chris Paton, addressing how we react to disruption, and providing some heuristics and advice on how to build resilience and quick thinking into team management.

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The conference also featured The EventWell Hub, which provided a quiet and safe space for everyone - speakers, delegates & staff - where they could speak confidentially with a fully trained and qualified mental health first aider about anything they may have been experiencing, or simply take a break, find calm and reduce triggers and any sensory overload in a noise-free environment.

There were three lively panel sessions covering sustainability and net-zero carbon strategies and pledges; life in a post-pandemic world from a venue perspective; and security in an uncertain world - which featured a sobering assessment of the current threat from terrorism provided by a speaker from National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO). There was also a detailed case study on the Commonwealth Games 2022, discussing the preparations the city and its venues are making ahead of this international event.


The busy breaks for coffee, lunch and networking throughout the day featured superb catering from The Good Eating Company and the opportunity for delegates to have a free profile photo taken by the AEV appointed photographer.

Before the final wrap up delegates were brought together for the euphemistically titled "P & M Session" to express some of the frustration that has been building up over the last 2 years, and the conference closed at 4 pm with a drinks reception provided by the event's main sponsor, Hotel Map. In a final burst of activity, delegates were asked to line up by years of experience and The AEV counted 1633 combined years of event industry experience in the room!


Rachel Parker, AEV director, welcomed the conclusion of the AEV 2021 Conference saying, "A huge thank you to Max Bull and BDC for truly excellent hospitality, and to Samme Allen who enthused our delegates into getting involved with their questions and comments. I'd also like to thank our invaluable event partners and sponsors: HotelMap, The Good Eating Company, Aztec, ASP, EventWell, Jonas Event Technology and VividInk Ltd.

"We wanted to create a space where the future wasn't defined as an all-encompassing threat of disruption, but to recognise that there are methodologies and strategies that we can all employ to not only manage the tectonic changes facing us, but make a success of them, and fulfil our responsibility as an industry to our people, our customers and the environment."



  • "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