As an event creator, you can’t go to any event without getting ideas for your own (or critiquing their room layout). But industry events go beyond simple inspiration to education — and, of course, networking.
Innovative education inspires and informs you. Exposure to new technologies and products keeps you on the cutting edge. And, of course, there’s the social aspect — the networking and the camaraderie inherent in the best “insider” events.
This is the time of year to decide which event industry happenings you’ll sign up for in 2018. Here’s our annual list of the top ten events for event creators, with a few new additions.
The Special Event
January 30-February 1, 2018 in New Orleans
A trade show for event professionals in a Southern city isn’t a bad way to start the year. Over 100 education sessions, showcasing events, and thousands of products on an impressive exhibit floor are the core of TSE.
The annual highlight of the event, the opening party, will be held at historic Generations Hall, constructed as a sugar mill in the 1820s.And since this year is New Orleans’ 300th birthday as a city, it’s sure to be one of the most raucous nights in event history.
Why you should go: It’s cold where you are. It’s warm — and festive — at TSE.
February 18-21, 2018 in Las Vegas
An event connecting catering professionals, event organizers, and industry suppliers, Catersource is actually two huge events. The conference takes place at Caesars Palace and boasts cutting-edge education. The trade show, over at the Las Vegas Convention Center, features more than 400 exhibit booths on trending foods, inventive techniques, and interactive demos.
Networking events, seminars, parties, and, of course, lots of superior food abound.
Why you should go: You frequently hire caterers — or just appreciate fine food.
April 20, 2018 in New York
The big #eventtech conference of the year brings together some of the best data-heads in the industry. Sessions and speakers tackle “pain points” event creators deal with all the time. Expect to engage in lively discussions around technology and best practices, and share your war stories with other “event hustlers” like yourself.
Techsytalk is optimal for hobnobbing with event professionals from traditional big brands like Coca-Cola and Marriott to digital-first companies such as Etsy and Uber.
Why you should go: Technology is pivotal to events today. You don’t want to get left behind.
National Planning Conference
April 21-24, 2018 in New Orleans
If New Orleans is your style, choose the National Planning Conference this year. In addition to a planner-led tour of “The Big Easy,” abundant planning tracks make this a comprehensive event for learning more about your industry.
There’s a track about Climate Change and Resiliency, and how event creators can reduce their vulnerability to natural hazards. There’s a track about Planning for Inclusiveness and Social Justice with events. And there’s a track about Technology and Big Data — top of mind for most event creators these days. This is just a sampling of the subject matter at this fun, social, and educational fest.
Why you should go: Expose yourself to the latest ideas and philosophies of the event industry in a town where it’s impossible to not have fun.
PCMA Education Foundation Visionary Awards
May 2, 2018 in Washington D.C.
This awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in May honors the stars and inspirational leaders of the business events industry. This year, a top meeting professional, supplier, and educator will be celebrated at this red-carpet affair, among other categories.
The awards ceremony takes place at the swanky Marriott Marquis, walking distance from the free Smithsonian Museums and iconic DC monuments.
Why you should go: Washington DC in spring is a lovely place to be, and proceeds from the awards benefit the PCMA Education Foundation, working to nurture professional development and innovation in the events industry.
BizBash Live 2018
May 16th in Ft. Lauderdale, July 18th in Los Angeles, Fall 2018 in NYC
From event hub BizBash comes a trifecta of trade shows each year, bringing together thousands of event creators in prime urban locations. Abundant exhibitors, workshops, luncheons, and parties make this event a perfect place to get a well-rounded immersion into what’s new for events this year.
It’s also an excellent place to look back at the previous year, with the Event Style Awards given to honor the best ideas, strategies, products, and technology creating innovation in the events industry.
Why you should go: Exposure to creative new ideas for your next event.
June 2-5, 2018 in Indianapolis, IN
Meeting Professionals International hosts a World Education Congress (WEC) each year. Open to all types of event planners, this year’s congress will take place in Indianapolis in June. Educating sessions throughout the event address all the concerns of event creators: operations, marketing, security, legal, technology, and more.
This year’s keynote speakers and guests haven’t yet been announced. But last year, three big names included Bruce Mau, Deepak Chopra, and Magic Johnson.
Why you should go: Inspirational sessions in a “see and be seen” environment.
ILEA Live 2018
August 16-18, 2018 in Denver, CO
Creativity is important to events. After all, innovative ideas are what set event brands apart. At ILEA Live, creativity is celebrated and cultured.
Sponsored by the International Live Events Association (ILEA), this three-day conference is a bit smaller than some of the others — typically less than 500 attendees. But that intimate environment is perfect for brainstorming, collaboration, and deep conversation.
The location in downtown Denver is also a draw for many participants. The Mile-High City is walkable, breathable, and beautiful.
Why you should go: If you want to infuse your events with innovative ideas and heightened creativity, this is the place to start.
The Event Planner Expo 2018
October 2-3, 2018 in New York City
This year’s Event Planner Expo has been expanded to two days to make room for more learning and mingling. This is the largest showcase for the events and hospitality industry in New York, connecting corporate and independent event creators with vendors, venues, product makers, and other brands.
Last year’s featured keynote speakers included Martha Stewart, talking about her behemoth namesake brand, and Colin Cowie, celebrity wedding planner. Come to network with thousands of event professionals and gain exposure to best-in-breed brands.
Why you should go: Connections with people with clout in the events industry.
IMEX America 2018
October 16-18, 2018 in Las Vegas
This three-day trade show for international event and meeting planners hosts hundreds of exhibitor events and has won many prestigious awards in the industry. And it’s growing every year. Last year, IMEX America hosted 12,389 participants and 3,390 exhibitors.
The show facilitates tens of thousands of appointments in advance, so you can make the most of your time on the ground. And you can also make the most of your leisure time, since the show takes place at the Sands Expo in the Venetian.
Why you should go: The appointment system makes this a very efficient trade show for getting things done.
Bonus: XLIVE 2017
December 10-13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada
XLIVE, now in its 15th year, is the largest annual conference and expo that brings together the most seasoned producers, executives, suppliers, and experts in live events, entertainment, and festivals. Join them for three days of general sessions, keynote presentations, roundtables, workshops, pre-set appointments, and networking.
Why you should go: XLIVE is the gold standard for music, food and drink, and advertising summits. You’ll mix and mingle with the best of the best.
Don’t have time to attend an event this year? We have a Plan B for you. Our Event Marketing Course and Certification is designed to teach you everything you need to know about event promotion in 2018.