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INDUSTRY 35getting to know youAeV chair Kathryn James outlines the inspirational value of getting out of the day-to-day mindset and conducting face-to-face meetings during the association's recent board meeting and tour of Scotland vory towers used to be the preserve of the elderly academic, but these days we have all created our own ivory towers wherever we are, besieged by emails and surrounded by deadlines, creating our world views based on reports, news articles and blog posts. For those of us on boards of trade associations, this can mean we arrive at meetings with our heads full of virtual information and a mindset coloured by our day-to-day working environments. Listening to others in the AEV boardroom helps us to expand our outlook, but this only covers a finite number of venues and at a senior level the AEV is much more. To be truly effective, it is important we understand the topics with an impact on all our members, irrespective of size or location. Because we work in a face-to-face industry, there is no better way for the board to increase its awareness than by meeting at other venues. To make a start, we decided to take our recent board meeting to the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh, to talk to our members in Scotland. This helped us gain a better understanding of how they see the world. The board members took a tour of the new arena at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, the Royal solutions available. The response from all member venues that have participated in the project has been very positive, and we are all now aware of just how complex an issue this is. Clearly a one-size-fits-all solution is unlikely to work. The passion and enthusiasm of the project group, including Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) members, will help us to develop a wider understanding across all stakeholders as we seek to identify the various options available. The industry benefits will be significant, particularly considering the steady growth of network traffic from a range of mobile devices. We hope this work will feature within the eGuide.After the board meeting, joint AEV and ESSA director Chris Skeith and I visited as many venues in the region as we could. I strongly feel we gained insight, achieved a better understanding and ended our tour with a broader industry view. This was something only face-to-face activity could have achieved. I would encourage anyone leading any company or organisation in our industry to take time out to get among customers and clients. It can be enlightening and energising.- Kathryn James is chair of the Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the MD of The NEC. IIt is important we understand the issues affecting the industry as a wholeHighland Centre and Edinburgh Castle, and used the opportunity to discuss several issues. Getting a personal perspective also keeps the variety of our members' services fresh in our minds. For example, the venues play host to a broad range of activities, from exhibitions through to gigs and festivals to agricultural shows, and it is important to keep reminding ourselves of this diversity.As board members, we endeavour to foster communication and networking between peer groups, both within working groups and across the wider membership. A notable success is the development of valuable industry tools such as the eGuide, recently adopted by ACC Liverpool, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre (AECC) and Harrogate International Centre (HIC). It's this spirit of information sharing that the eGuide can constantly evolve and we now have a dedicated committee to ensure it is as up to date as possible.As an example, we are working on the very real problem of Wi-Fi connectivity at venues; we are bringing our members together to understand the collective needs of their customers, who now regard network connectivity as a baseline requirement. We are also organising the sharing and discussion of the myriad technical and technological +44 (0) 20 8545 2492 Safe hands for your Safety Officers and Consultants . Event Safety & Evacuation Planning . Risk Assessments & Method Statements . Stand Approvals . H&S Officers . Floor Managers . Security . Stewarding . On-site support staff . Worldwide, Indoor and Outdoor Events

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