A Rich History

AEO 100 Years

Over the years, the mission of AEO has transitioned and developed, to align with current issues.

A century on and the original collaborative ambitions are not too dissimilar from the AEO’s current objectives, albeit on a much wider and ambitious scale. It is run by its members for the benefit of its members through an elected council, specialist working groups and a fulltime secretariat.

Our working groups have seen a transformation, offering more diversity than ever. We’ve gained recognition from government bodies like never before. Collaboration across our great industry is something we and every one of you should be proud of.

Founded in 1921, registered with Companies House in June 1982 and headquartered now in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, the AEO comprises 87 national and international members.


  • To work collaboratively on industry related issues in the UK.
  • To develop cooperation among amongst trade fairs.
  • To lobby Government or Customs & Excise on tax for imported goods and other issues.
  • Negotiate collectively regarding excessive rail and transport rates (The ‘Railway Clearing House’), which successfully reduced travel fares in 1927.
  • To tackle venue related service issues; parking, waste collection, water and electricity fees.
  • To negotiate and provide cooperative insurance for its members
  • Create a list of approved contractors to exclude undesirables (only Union labourers were employed).
  • To collectively leverage the national press, in order to revitalise the industry during the interwar period.


  • To be the voice of the now multi-billion pound event organising industry.
  • To provide members with guidance on issues such as; health & safety compliance, security, sustainability and other technical and commercial issues.
  • To represent the collective needs of event and exhibition organisers and to promote the interests of our members and the industry at large.
  • To organise a broad-ranging schedule of events that provide networking opportunities for industry professionals and the platforms to share ideas and experiences.
  • To provide members with research regarding the industry, offer educational support and deal with issues of common interest.
  • To drive standards in the UK & Globally for the industry and its customers.
  • To work in partnership to drive exhibitor performance, value & return.

  • Circdata
  • NEC


  • AEV
  • Aztec
  • Cvent
  • ESSA
  • Messe Frankfurt
  • Perton Signs
  • Reed Exhibitions
  • Experience Staff
  • RAI Amsterdam
  • William Reed
  • InEvexco

Event Sponsors

  • ASP
  • Aztec
  • Circdata
  • Cvent
  • DB Schenker
  • EFX
  • Exhibition News
  • Messe Frankfurt
  • Perton Signs
  • Virtual Events Institute

360 Partners & Event Partners