BVEP - Business Visits and Events Partnership

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Chair and Vice Chairs

Michael Hirst OBE - Chairman

Michael Hirst has chaired the Partnership since its inception in 1999.  He has fifty years' experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He is a former board member of the Ladbroke Group Plc as Chairman and CEO of Hilton International.  Michael Hirst is a consultant to CBRE Hotels, the world's leading hotel real estate advisory firm. He served as Chairman of The Tourism Alliance, the industry's umbrella trade body and continues to be a member of its Board.  Michael Hirst was appointed OBE for services to tourism. He was voted "Personality of the Year" by readers of Meetings & Incentive Travel and awarded the Joint Meetings Industry Council Unity Award, recognising individuals who have made a significant contribution to the advancement of the Meetings Industry and its level of professionalism.

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Samme Allen, Vice Chair

Samme Allen is Founder & Director of Sequoia Partnership. The organisation works in partnership with pre-launch, new and existing venues wanting to build on their success, increase market share and identify new revenue streams.
Samme has been a board member of MPI UK & Ireland for over 7 years and has served as President of the chapter from 2011-2013 as well as international council positions. She is a director of the charity Meeting Needs and she also spends time working with students to ensure there is professionalism and career opportunities for the future leaders of the industry. She has been working in various capacities within the meetings industry globally for 15 years, including event planning roles in both the UK and Hong Kong and has been a Vice Chair of the BVEP for over 3 years.

Simon Hughes, Vice Chair

Since May 2012 Simon has run a business consultancy specialising in providing strategic services to the events sector. Previously he spent 10 years as Director of Live Events at COI, where he worked on a number of high profile events for a diverse range of government departments and agencies. He has worked in creative industry management and production roles for over 30 years.  He is passionate about getting the end-to-end production process right for live events. He believes that bringing people together to share ideas, learning and experience remains one of the most powerful communication tools available today.  Widely recognised by the industry over the years for his varied contribution, he serves on the board of Evcom and is a vice chair of the Business Visits and Events Partnership (BVEP).

Dr Caroline Jackson, Vice Chair

Dr Caroline Jackson is Head of Department: Events & Leisure at Bournemouth University. As well as being BVEP Vice Chair, Caroline is Chair of the Association for Events Management Education (AEME). Caroline has been at the forefront of establishing the educational and research significance of events. Before joining academia, Caroline worked at senior level in leisure services for a number of local authorities, where events were central as levers for social and economic change. Her interests lie in the meaning of events and festivals and their creative nature. Caroline has held previous Board positions, as Vice Chair for Poole Arts Trust Ltd (Lighthouse, Poole's Centre for the Arts) and the Institute of Leisure & Amenity Management (now the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity), as well as helping to establish AEME in 2003.

Chris Skeith, Vice Chair

Chris has worked in the events industry for over 20 years, initially creating and developing exhibition audit schemes with media auditor ABC, and latterly holding Director positions with association secretariat company the Events Industry Alliance. As part of this secretariat he creates an environment which encourages engagement and interaction with the members and Boards whilst maintaining membership levels and association budgets. He has a particular focus on facilitating the resolution of industry issues and the creation and adoption of best practice. He also sits on numerous policy and planning groups, such as HSE, BS/ISO, and is a regular speaker at industry events and contributor and commentator in the press.