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January 6, 2009

AEO drops ABC to improve accessibility of event auditing process

Following 18 months of review, the Association of Event Organisers’ (AEO’s) board has announced upgrades to its system for reporting exhibition and event attendances.

The AEO has decided that, from 1 January 2009, members will follow reporting procedures that correspond with the generally accepted procedures of UFI, the main international federation of exhibition organisers. AEO members will now be obliged to report all their events in the form of an explanatory grid. This grid gives a far greater breakdown of how attendances are made up than had previously been the case.

A new set of auditing principles has been agreed by the AEO board and all attendance numbers from UK events will, in future, potentially be subject to review and interrogation by:
– The AEO Audit Committee
– An independent appeals process, in the event of dispute.
– A random spot-checking audit run by a body appointed by the AEO

This system replaces the mandatory process previously administered by the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), although individual organisers are free to continue with both the AEO and ABC audit. They may also audit through BPA.

“I think this a good example of the AEO responding to the complex and disparate needs of its members,” said AEO chair Philip Soar. “We have been talking to the international associations for some time about auditing principles. We think that members will appreciate a fairer, simpler, cost effective and more efficient arrangement. We hope that organisers will feel that we have simplified what had become, via the ABC route, a highly involved and expensive process.

“Currently, less than 25% of the 800 plus events that we recognise annually in The Facts [annual AEO research into members’ events] are audited,” he continued. “We hope that these changes reinforce our commitment to a highly transparent and open system of publishing event information. We think it will lead to a far higher proportion of those 800 events openly revealing visitor figures and being prepared to accept the scrutiny of the industry body."

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