Want to cut the endless hours searching for a good venue but worried you’ll book somewhere that fails to live up to expectation? Then adjust your aim.
Accredited in Meetings (AIM) is the UK’s nationally recognised standard for venues and service providers in the meetings, conferences and events industry. As the MIA’s AIM Development Group Chairman and Director of AIM Gold Accredited One Great George Street, I thought I’d share my recent interview explaining the accreditation scheme with Executive PA Magazine.
What is AIM accreditation? And what is its purpose?
Accredited in Meetings (AIM) is the UK’s nationally recognised standard for venues and service providers in the meetings, conferences and events industry. The venues and suppliers who have achieved AIM, demonstrate that they operate to an industry benchmarked standard, which then gives event planners a reassurance that they are dealing with a company that will tick all the boxes in terms of compliance, capability and competence. AIM venues include purpose-built conference centres, unique and sporting venues, hotels and academic venues.
Who administers the scheme and how long has it been running?
AIM is administered by The Meetings Industry Association (mia) who introduced the standard in 2007. The mia has been established for 25 years and so has a wealth of knowledge and a strong background in the meetings and events industry. They developed AIM together with experts from all sectors of the industry and the accreditation is endorsed by more than 35 UK business tourism destinations. It is constantly evolving too; I lead the AIM Development Group and we meet regularly to review criteria and to discuss any changes or additions. AIM is very much in the spirit of continuous improvement for businesses and it is important for us to ensure that event buyers will get the very best from their venues.
How do venues receive accreditation?
At entry level, venues complete an annual self-assessment which covers their meeting facilities, legal compliance (Health & Safety at Work, Licensing Laws, Data Protection etc.) and the AIM Code, which covers everything from the location and accessibility of the meeting rooms and facilities to the levels of security, clarity on what is supplied at no extra charge and how transparent the published prices are. It’s a very robust, detailed process and evidence has to be submitted. We then assess their application with a number of applicants receiving a site visit from a professional accreditor.
What does the accreditation mean for PAs looking to book events?
When you book events, there are several things that are important to you. You want to make sure that you’ll be well looked after, that the venue will be of good quality and won’t let you down. The terms and conditions are crucial – nobody likes hidden costs or unexpected issues. Essentially, AIM helps you quickly find venues you can instantly trust because it acts as a guarantee on these and so many other areas. With AIM you can feel confident you are working with dedicated professionals at every stage of your meeting or event organisation.
Can you explain the differences between the accreditation levels?
The AIM scheme encourages continuous improvement through AIM Higher. Along with the standard entry-level of AIM, there are two ‘AIM Higher’ levels: AIM Silver and AIM Gold. These demonstrate compliance with a more stringent set of criteria and they are an optional step for venues and suppliers.
Venues that have been awarded AIM Higher have completed a much more rigorous process, covering fifty assessment criteria, including a ten-section self-assessment. They will also have produced a portfolio of evidence in support of their application and been visited by an independent assessor who determines whether the venue is worthy of the accreditation and, if so, whether AIM Silver or AIM Gold should be awarded. For a venue or supplier to achieve AIM Silver or Gold is, therefore, a significant achievement.
Any venue that achieves AIM Silver/Gold must be re-assessed every 3 years – this is to encourage continuous improvement and is key to the AIM message of maintaining high standards in the industry.
Is the scheme country-wide?
Yes, AIM runs throughout the UK and Ireland and there are over 530 venues and suppliers who have achieved the accreditation so it gives people plenty of choice. With venues including Arsenal Football Club, Center Parcs, One Great George Street and Warwick Conferences, we have something to offer everyone.