Manchester welcomes AEV Conference 2019


Manchester welcomes AEV Conference 2019

11 Jul 2019 by: AEV Team

We welcomed over 200 venue professionals and executives, representing more than 40 venues in the UK, Europe, and North America, to the AEV Conference 2019, at Manchester Central on Thursday, July 4.

The theme of the conference, 'New Horizons', invited delegates to consider the 15 years leading up to the event, and to look forward to the next 15 years, and all the ways the world and the industry will have changed in that time.

In the light of the iconic glazed arch of Manchester Central, delegates began to assemble well before opening time, enjoying coffee and breakfast snacks before the conference began with an address from Shaun Hinds, CEO of Manchester Central, welcoming the delegates and giving a short history of the venue.

Shaun H

The conference content, focused around its 'New Horizons' theme covered a broad range of topics, beginning with a big-picture, futurological exploration of the venue sector with Graeme Codrington of Tomorrow Today Global, and concluding with a keynote address from Phil Jones MBE, former fax salesman, managing director of Brother UK Sale and president of Forever Manchester.


The morning panel session with Raj Pragji of the QEII Centre, Cheryl Busby of Clarion Events, Clare Lawrence of Hays Marketing and Vicki Cockman of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England discussing issues around attracting, retaining and looking after people.

panel sesh

The afternoon panel session welcomed Kate Hardcastle MBE who first gave a compelling presentation on customer centricity, before sitting down with Shaun Hinds and Rachel Belam of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield to examine how customers are changing, and how to put them at the heart of any operation.

Other speakers included Dan Thurlow, chair of our AEV board and director of exhibition sales at SEC, who took to the lectern to give a comprehensive rundown of the many achievements and milestones of the association; Kim Myhre of MCI and David Hornby of Why Not? who delivered a fascinating discussion on what 'experiential' will mean in the future; and Clare-Lena Miller-Davis from P&J Live who revealed how Aberdeen City Council and Henry Boot invested £333m in a state-of-the-art event campus outside the city, and explained the decision making process behind a wealth of innovative features and community-friendly design decisions.


Delegates were impressed with the breadth of the contents; Michelle Baldwin senior event manager at NEC, said "We've heard some fantastic material today, and I'll be taking ideas about brand perception, changing visitor profiles, and attracting young talent, back to the NEC to discuss with my colleagues. It's also a great chance to catch up with other industry peers and colleagues, and get a sense of the state of the industry at large."

Rebecca Towell, business development manager at Manchester's Event City added, "I came to the AEV conference to network with industry colleagues, learn something new and get inspired. And this year's conference has delivered on all three counts, with great presentations looking ahead to the future."

Speaking after the conference closed, AEV director Rachel Parker summed up her feelings about the day, saying "It's been an exhilarating day, and I'm incredibly grateful to Manchester Central for providing us not only with a superb venue for this special, 15th anniversary edition of our conference, but also our brilliant conference chair, Shaun Hinds.

"Bringing the conference to the north of England was in response to delegates feedback, and the move has been handsomely repaid with a day of compelling content from some of the most respected figures in business and events, as well as experts in their field.”

Parker finished by saying, "Every year since its inception, our conference has grown in size and stature, and it wouldn't be possible without our conference sponsor, Ungerboeck Software, or our event partners, Blitz, The Barista, Explori, Glisser, ASP, Silverstream TV, Thirdspace Solutions, and of course Manchester Central. Their support for the AEV conference is invaluable."


After the conference, delegates readied themselves for the AEV's 15th Anniversary Party at Dirty Martini, Manchester's premier city-centre cocktail bar. Beginning at 7pm, delegates were given props and costumes to create an elegant 1920's theme, and party sponsors Freeman, provided "Freemantini" cocktails created especially for the occasion, where much fun was had by all.




  • "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