In a follow-up to EN guest editor Phil Soar’s recent article Why are we ashamed of the word exhibition? Trevor Foley, MD of tfconnect and former chief executive of the AEO explains the decision to rename the Association of Exhibition Organisers as the Association of Event Organisers.
It was great, as ever, to read another Phil Soar history lesson in his EN piece on the name of our Association of Event Organisers. Yes, the name was changed from “exhibition” to “events” on my watch. However, the reason, as Phil states, was not to attract more members.
The reasoning was one of trying to address a very similar issue to that which Phil outlines regarding Government understanding of our industry. Phil’s piece highlights that it is a nut we’ve still not cracked as an industry.
With the rise of the internet, many other media were in decline in an increasingly digital world. Our industry was, more and more, being seen as a perfect bedfellow in media buying land. Alongside, a well-funded promotion campaign, our industry was getting press attention. However, not only was the word exhibition being deemed ‘unsexy’ in the new digital world, but the press were thinking we were promoting museums and art galleries.
Even then, the debate wasn’t clear cut. ‘Trade and consumer shows’ was on the table as a descriptor, but so were ‘live’ and ‘experiential’ among others.
Phil mentioned his article to me ahead of publication, concerned that I might be upset about it. “Of course not” I responded! ‘Events’ was right at the time to try to portray our industry in a sexier light. I accept that it has an issue in distinguishing our industry from other forms of events. However, going back may mean that the original problem re-surfaces?
It, for me, remains an imponderable!