Stay on top of the events industry with these 8 must-attend conferences

It’s important to stay on top of changes so that your events reflect the very latest thinking. Here are 8 must-attend event industry conferences.

Glen Justice

Glen Justice is a content strategist and contributor ...

There’s no doubt that your 2019 calendar is filling up fast. But how much time have you dedicated to professional development?

Staying current on the events industry is vital to providing premiere experiences for your audience. Trends emerge. Expectations shift. It’s important to stay on top of changes so that your events reflect the very latest thinking. 

Thankfully, there is a bevy of trade shows for event planners that can help you stay sharp. 

Here are eight top event conferences to explore for fresh ideas and inspiration — from New York to The Netherlands. 

1. European Meetings & Events Conference (Feb. 9-12)

The European Meetings & Events Conference, commonly called “EMEC,” offers an immersive experience in four key topic areas: risk management, design thinking, leadership, and meeting perspectives.

“You have the option to become a ninja on one of the topics or alternate between tracks,”  it says on the conference site. “In that way, you pick and choose the sessions that suit your needs best.” 

Created by Meeting Planners International, the conference offers field trips designed to inject real-world experiences into the conference. They're called Learning Journeys. “During these journeys, you will get insights and applications from other industries and we will discuss how we translate that knowledge back to the meeting and event industry,” says MPI. 

The event is held in The Hague, The Netherlands.

2. International Confex (Feb. 26-27)

International Confex draws more than 8,000 event professionals from around the world to Olympia, London, for two days of inspiration, learning, and networking.

This year’s show features 70 sessions and seven separate learning tracks. Attendees can also discover the Event Tech Zone, an area dedicated to showing off the latest events technology, and pavilions showcasing collections of London's unique event spaces.

The show also includes special features to promote networking, including six Speed Networking sessions. The Confex Safari, a personalized tour of the show, ensures that your list contains everything that you want to see. 

3. MPI World Education Congress (June 15-18)

Meeting Professionals International is the largest global meeting and event industry association. The World Education Congress, known universally as “WEC,” is a major conference for those who seek professional development and education.

WEC offers networking opportunities, certification programs, education sessions, and much more. As the MPI blog puts it, “WEC has what you need to stay relevant and successful in the ever-changing meeting and event landscape."

Held in Toronto this year, the host city is also part of the experience. “It’s the largest and most-visited destination in the country offering the best of modern Canada,” MPI writes.

4. Cvent Connect (July 8-11)

Cvent is a global meeting, event, and travel technology leader with 25,000 customers and 300,000 users worldwide. Its conference, Cvent Connect, highlights every development in event tech with in-person demos and live tech tours.  

Over the four-day event, the Las Vegas conference offers more than 150 hours of classroom-style instruction, best practices sessions, roundtable discussions, and more.

The conference also features “FOMO-worthy evening event experiences" — made for those looking to make peer connections with some of the 4,000+ attendees. 

5. IMEX America (Sept. 10-12)

IMEX draws more than 3,500 exhibitors from roughly 150 countries, making it a major show in the U.S. market. 

The conference features more than 180 educational events across 10 separate learning tracks. Opportunities include everything from big seminars to small group sessions, like Hot Topic Tables and small-group “Campfires.”

A research pod provides the latest industry data and the Playroom allows hands-on time with new technology designed to make events more interactive. There's even a 5k fun run to help you get "the best possible start to a busy day at the show."

IMEX is held at the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center, one of the country’s largest facilities.

6. Event Planner Expo (Oct. 3)

The Event Planner Expo brings together more than 3,000 attendees and 150 exhibitors in New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion. The conference offers speakers, networking, education and a look at some of the best that New York City has to offer.

Previous speakers have included Barbara Corcoran, of ABC’s Shark Tank, and Colin Cowie, of Colin Cowie Lifestyle. The conference draws planners, top executives, and professionals from the marketing, public relations, and human resources fields.

There are parties to open and close the event, and a VIP networking lounge in between.   

7. Smart Meetings Events (various dates)

Smart Meetings offers a series of events throughout the year and in various locations nationwide, from Seattle to Chicago to Marco Island, Fla.

The events offer continuing education credits, one-on-one targeted meetings, breakout sessions, networking meetups, themed after-parties, and more.

The offerings vary by location. Some overlook city skylines. Others are beachside.

No matter the address, Smart Meetings say all attendees will source a year’s worth of meetings in just a single day, uncovering "tips, trends and strategic tactics from industry power players and inspiring keynote speakers." 

8. Questex Travel Group’s MICE Events (various dates)

Questex Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchange (MICE) events offer one-on-one meetings held in private rooms.

The events, according to Questex, “bring pre-qualified meeting planners and incentive buyers together with travel suppliers in key locations to provide a powerful platform for productive meetings, relationship building, and strong ROI.” 

There are four events in 2019 hosted in Costa Rica, Curaçao, Park City, Utah, and, perhaps most novel, in New York’s Yankee Stadium.


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