POLLING DAY: AEO Conference voting reveals an industry playing catch up

Did you know that over one third (34%) of Association of Event Organisers (AEO) members think their companies would be better off under new management, with 60% interested in buying out the business they work for?

This revealing statistic and more like it were generated in real-time during the recent AEO Conference in "Manchester":http://www.venues.org.uk/searches/manchester_lancashire_venues.asp using technology supplied and managed by Crystal Interactive. Using special keypads, delegates could express their views on a variety of subjects led by the speakers. It was certainly one of the more interesting and engaging aspects of the event, but sadly neither the delegates nor the AEO officials appeared to be taking the rather worrying results very seriously.

The above finding stemmed from a presentation by Andrew McKenna of Ingenious Media about the growing interest that the events industry is generating among investors. It suggests that many of those who attended the event – and more than 250 voted – are unhappy with the way their company is run and think they could do a better job. And these are people who work for organisers (42%), venues (25%) and service suppliers (20%). Could this be a warning to directors of events companies and venues to give their staff a bigger say in how their businesses are run and make them feel more wanted?

Following David Allen of ?What if?’s address on how brands present the events industry with a great business opportunity through live marketing’s potential to help companies engage with customers more effectively, it was clear that this was news to many delegates. Some 67% said brands don’t get a good service from the events industry, while 78% thought they didn’t have the resources to capitalise on this business opportunity. Allen made the point that unless the industry begins serving brands effectively, the companies behind the brands will start creating their own events.

Another worrying sign of an industry that is lagging behind in terms of forethought and innovation was that some 76% of AEO conference delegates thought their company wasn’t exploiting the internet effectively.

So from dissatisfaction among their staff, to the inability to seize a golden business opportunity and capitalise on the commercial power of new media, these statistics reveal the need for many events organisers and venues to drag themselves into the 21st century before it’s too late.

The full survey report, Inside the Mind of the Delegate, which is one of the largest and most indepth pieces of research into delegate thinking, is published by Crystal Interactive.

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