Are you in a rut and need inspiration? Your peers are your best resource. But even if you have a strong peer network within your organization or in your town, there is something revitalizing about getting out of town and meeting new people, hearing new ideas, and discover new techniques. Conferences are valuable learning and networking opportunity for every event manager. Here are 9 of the best event industry conferences for 2020.
PCMA Convening Leaders – January 5 – 8 in San Francisco
It is said that this conference is the best place for business event professionals to learn insights and ideas from industry leaders and each other. If you are interested in experiential design, event strategy, new technology or trends or event data and analytics, this is the conference for you. The organizers are planning an immersive workshop schedule that includes “The Arena”, is “an interactive playground with micro-learnings from experiential activations, engaging activities or creative tastes curated for you.” There will be creative education sessions, facilitated conversations with subject matter experts, content studios, and a variety of hands-on learning activities. The speaker list is impressive, featuring Simon Sinek and Condoleezza Rice. If you can’t make it to California, there is also a live stream ticket option.
ESPA Annual Conference –January 10 – 12 in Denver
The Event Services Professional Organization hosts an annual learning and networking conference every year for both members and non-members. The group claims that they are the only association “dedicated to advancing the professional development of ESMs and building the bottom lines of the facilities and CVBs they work for.” This meeting will host interactive educational sessions and a leadership track for attendees who are at the Associate Director level or higher. There will also be CMP sessions to earn credits and mobile sessions for online learning. The conference offers unique opportunities for professionals in similar disciplines to network together as well as common spaces for one-on-one networking and meetings.
NACE Evolve –January 25 – 27 in Dallas
The National Association of Catering and Events holds its annual conference that encourages learning and networking so that members can become leaders in the industry. Established 60 years ago, the NACEis a community with 3,500 catering and event professional members in the United States. The conference will include a CPCE Fast Track program as well as the actual exam. There is a Dine Around planned and workshops headed by industry leaders.
The Special Event Show – March 9-12 in Las Vegas
For 2020, The Special Event and Catersource brands have joined forces to host one mega-conference for approximately 8,500 meetings and event planners, caterers, designers, producers, chefs, business owners, event marketers and more. Instead of two separate events, the entire meeting & event industry can now meet at the same time for collaboration and inspiration. The combined event will bring 500 suppliers to a tradeshow and offer an expanded conference program featuring immersive workshops ranging from professional certification to promotional and marketing strategies and even artistic food presentation.
Experiential Marketing Summit 2020 – May 11 – 13 in Chicago
Produced by Event Marketer, this conference focuses on experiential marketing. Expected attendance is more than 1,800 global B2B and B2C brand marketers, agency executives, meeting planners, tradeshow organizers, event planners, designers, and event technology innovators. Keynote speakers for 2020 will be the CMO of Burger Kind and the Chief Brand Officer of General Mills. At past events, marketing executives from Pepsi, Uber, General Mills, Under Armour, Samsung, and General Motors either attended or spoke. The agenda will include networking happy hours, fitness classes, off-site field trips, dinners, and concerts, as well as hands-on workshops and a one-of-a-kind immersive expo hall. This event is interactive and engaging by design. There is no better way to be inspired.
MPI’s 2020 World Education Congress – June 6 – 9 in Grapevine, Texas
Meeting Professionals International doesn’t always host their annual World Education Congress in the United States. When they do, it is a must-attend. This signature event delivers unprecedented learning, business, and networking opportunities for more than 2,000 attendees. Guests are business and meeting planners, agency owners, association planners, suppliers, students, industry faculty, and more. There are pre-conference certification programs, a buyer match program, a trade show, and plenty of networking and social events planned. They also promise to serve locally sourced food served with a big Texan smile and a memorable and authentic experience.
IMEX America – September 15 – 17 in Las Vegas
IMEX America is a trade show and educational conference for meeting and event professionals. Planners from all industries and at all levels are welcome. There is a very robust buyers program if you are interested in connecting with suppliers, including an online appointment system and a private buyer’s lounge. There will be more than 3,000 US domestic suppliers, global tourist offices and convention bureaus, hotels, conference and exhibition centers, cruise lines, airlines, spa resorts, technology providers, event management specialists and more at this premier event. There are about 180 educational workshops and plenty of networking and social events planned as well.
The Event Planner Expo – October 13 -15 in New York City
The Event Planner Expo is organized by the New York event planning firm EMRG Media. This conference attracts high-level event planners, marketers, corporate decision-makers, and industry executives. In 2019, more than 3,000 attendees included CEOs, small business owners, C-suite Executives, Sales and Marketing VPs, Creative Directors, and Corporate Event Managers in the event planning, hospitality, sales, PR, marketing, media, and other industries. These are influential decision-makers who control large event budgets. The 2020 schedule is not set yet but the organizers promise that speakers will cover topics in sales, marketing, trends, business development, and more. Past speakers have included Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine.
Wedding Merchants Business Academy – November 17 – 19 in Las Vegas
The organizers claim that this event is the largest conference for wedding professionals in the world. They are planning to host 5,500 attendees, 180 exhibitors, and over 120 educational seminars at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The seminar tracks for 2019 included Technology, Business, Style/Trends, and Wedding Specialties. Attendees included wedding officiants, venues, DJs, caterer, photographers, florists, designers, videographers, beauty professionals and, of course, event planners. The website states that Wedding MBA attendees make 2x more revenue than the market average. It sounds like a challenge!
No matter which conference you choose, make plans to network and learn. Grab every opportunity you can do view new techniques, discover different points of view and meet both peers and potential partners. The opportunities are endless. It’s up to you to find them.