In pictures: AEO Conference big hit with delegates once again

Chris Skeith
© Jonny Donovan

The AEO Conference drew to a close on Friday 8 September with positive feedback from attendees and organisers.

Chris Skeith, AEO chief executive, commented: “This year’s AEO Conference was a great experience. We covered some real heavyweight issues that were designed to deliver insight and get delegates thinking about how, by working together, we can create positive experiences for all industry stakeholders. In addition, there were lots of smiling faces so we know some fun was had too!”

Experience is Everything was the topic that 216 attendees came to learn about. The conference, chaired by technology journalist Kate Russell, didn’t disappoint.

The opening session, chaired by Jane Risby-Rose, was full of insight. The panel, made up of Cathy Oates from UBM, customer experience consultant Ian Golding, and Mark Brewster from Explori, pulled no punches when all agreed that research and experience highlight traditional values as the key to delivering the best customer experience.

The subsequent sessions of the day covered must-know topics such as GDPR; how to cope with cultural differences when launching international events; security planning from both an organiser and a venue perspective; and preparing your company workplace for the next generation of event professionals.


The grand finale of the first day started with Kermit the Frog, aka Chris Hughes from Brand Events, launching himself into the room and getting everyone to hit the deck and hide under the tables. It wasn’t a security drill but an exercise about anticipation.

Following a dance out of the room to a samba band, the delegates were led, limboing with a drink in hand, through a party room.

The end of the session by Chris Hughes involved chanting “AAMM”. The message about creating an experience, everyone agreed, it’s based on anticipation, arrival, moments and memories: AAMM.

Roger Martin-Fagg led the second morning of the conference with an eye-opening session on the economy, delivering clearer explanations behind, and consequences of, the Brexit vote than most people will have experienced before. There were subsequent calls on Twitter for Roger to be the face of the media on all things economy related.

He was followed by marketing expert Steve Kemish, who brought the discussion full circle, providing delegates with practical examples of why traditional values are so important to the customer experience.

“Getting the ingredients right to make the flagship AEO Conference the right mix of learning, fun and networking is key, and I’d like to pass on our thanks to the Events Group and Development Board who worked tirelessly with the AEO team to make this one of the very best,” Chris Skeith concluded.

The AEO Conference was held at The Vox, NEC, Birmingham. In a statement, Skeith said: “I’d also like to thank the NEC, and the team at the Vox for being such great hosts. My final thanks has to go to our wonderful sponsors and partners, the brilliant line up of speakers, and of course the delegates.”

The next AEO Conference will be held in Brighton on 6-7 September 2018.

Editor’s note: Photography by Jonny Donovan.

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