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Event orchestration | 22 February 2016

2016: The Best Events For Event Planners

JJ Bennett

Note: This list is continuously updated. Last updated on June, 27th, 2016.

As an event professional, you already know that it is imperative to regularly make an effort to improve upon your skills and expand your network. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find opportunities to do so. While there are plenty of events planning conferences taking place, finding the ideal event for event planners to attend isn’t always easy to do.

The purpose of this article is to show you some of the best event planning conferences of 2016, designed to help you to develop your skills, expand your professional network, and help you to advance your event planning career.

This list of events for event planners features a variety of conferences, workshops, and networking events that can help you do all three of these things, plus all of the listed events are run by trusted industry professionals.

2016 Event Planning CONFERENCES

February Events

Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) – February 23-24, 2016 – Melbourne, Australia

AIME is an expo that allows top flight meeting planners throughout the world to engage and network with their peers and with suppliers. The event is designed for anyone involved in the process of organising meetings, business travel, incentives, or events.

March Events

International Confex – March 2-3, 2016 – Olympia London, United Kingdom

International Confex is a conference designed to bring together event organizers while providing them with a bevy of venues, destinations, and event support services. The event features thousands of participants and is the largest event professional conference in the UK.

Confex features a number of different event technology exhibitors, one of them is Bizzabo. If you’re going, drop us a line so we can meet!

Pricing for Profit Workshop – March 6, 2016 – Atlanta, Georgia

This event is specifically designed for event professionals in the wedding planning industry. The event will feature speakers Kristin Kaplan, Julie Anne Neill, and Akeem Clayton, and is intended to be an interactive workshop that provides plenty of actionable takeaways. It’s a good event for planners who are new to the wedding planning industry and want to learn industry best practices.

Catersource Event Solutions Conference – March 13-16, 2016 – Las Vegas, NV

This event planning conference is tailored towards professional caterers, although many event professionals with broader titles attend as well. The event generally has about a thousand attendees and features unbeatable networking opportunities as well as an array of educational tips and tools. It’s a great event for those interested in finding awesome caterers or for those hoping to find some catering inspiration.

MPI Experiential Event Series at SXSW 2016 – March 17-19, 2016 – Austin, TX

This event, hosted by Meeting Professionals International, is designed to help planners interested in learning what it takes to organize a large scale event, like a music festival. This is a one-of-a-kind event because it provides attendees with a live glimpse into the production process or one of the most prestigious and complex events, SXSW.

Creative at Heart Conference – March 20-22, 2016 – Annapolis, MD

If you are looking to get the creative juices flowing, this is the event planning conference to attend. You will have the opportunity to hear from over two dozen event professionals, all of whom provide a unique perspective on how you can bring more creativity to your events to better inspire attendees.

Independent Planner Education Conference – March 20-23, 2016 – Austin, TX

This event for event planners is designed to serve as an educational opportunity for independent meeting professionals. The conference emphasizes both education and networking, as event professionals and suppliers will have the opportunity to participate in one-on-one meetings with each other. It should be noted that you must pre-apply to attend.

The People Plan Workshop – March 23, 2016 – New York City, NY

While this workshop is presented by wedding planning professionals, it is actually advertised as a great option for any event professional looking to potentially add to their staff and grow their business. Like most workshops, it is designed to provide you with plenty of actionable steps that you can use immediately to plan better events. Plus it offers a good networking opportunity in one of the country’s biggest event planning hubs.

Learn more about how Bizzabo’s award winning event management platform can help you take your event planning game to the next level.

April Events

APA National Planning Conference – April 2-5, 2016 – Phoenix, AZ

The American Planning Association’s 2016 Conference is perfect for event professionals who are looking for an opportunity to learn about new trends and hot topics in the industry. The educational opportunities available at this conference are unparalleled in the industry.

IBTM Africa – April 8, 2016 – Cape Town, South Africa

IBTM just recently began featuring an event in South Africa to provide a better opportunity for elite meeting planners and buyers to network and gain relevant education in the industry. For our friends in Africa, IBTM Africa represents one of the best event planning conferences around.

Smart Meeting Southern California – April 13, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA

Smart Meetings is best known for their magazine that regularly features helpful tips and tricks for event professionals. In addition to the magazine and website resources that they offer, Smart Meetings also host several small events throughout the United States, perfect for planners interested in great networking opportunities.

IMEX Frankfurt – April 19-21, 2016 – Frankfurt, Germany

IMEX Frankfurt is one of the largest events in the world for incentive travel, meeting, and event professionals. The event is projected to host over 13,000 attendees and the 2015 conference had over 65,000 pre-scheduled business appointments. It’s one of the best events for event plannings of 2016.

Elevate By BizBash –  April 27, 2016 – New York, NY

This one day conference for event planners is designed to introduce attendees to the intersection of event planning and innovation. Featuring a lineup of speakers like Silicon Valley guru, Ben Parr, and BizBash CEO, David Adler, this one-day event is sure to inspire eventprofs. It also represents a fantastic networking opportunity for planners interested in meeting some of the industry’s brightest minds.

PCMA Education Foundation Visionary Awards – April 27, 2016 – Washington, DC

This event is the premier awards show for event professionals. Over 1,000 event industry professionals attend the show annually and it is intended to create an Oscars-like environment for thought leaders within the profession.

Connect California – April 27-29, 2016 – Orange County, CA

A hosted buyer, appointment-only reverse trade show bringing together the most active California area association, corporate & sports planners, suppliers and industry experts for three days of general sessions, workshops, pre-scheduled appointments and networking.

ISES Global Event Summit – April 2016 – Edinburgh, Scotland

This international event planning conference features event planners from some of the world’s most prestigious organizations. Organizers from companies like NASDAQ, Edwards Lifesciences, Shaw Communications, SH Worldwide, and TBA Global will all be presenting at the event.

May Events

Smart Meeting Northeast – May 12, 2016 – New York, NY

A great networking event hosted by Smart Meetings,this particular event caters more towards event professionals who are involved in planning high-end events and conferences. It’s projected to be one of the bigger Smart Meetings events happening this year.

June Events

WEC 2016 – June 11-14, 2016 – Atlantic City, NJ

Meeting Professionals International, one of the oldest event industry associations in the world, has scheduled their annual conference for the 11th through 14th of June. There are a wide array of opportunities for networking, education sessions, and the ability to hear from several industry experts.

Engage 16 Luxury Wedding Business Summit – June 12-15, 2016 – Palm Beach, CA

For wedding industry professionals, there are very few events throughout the country as prestigious as the Luxury Wedding Business Summit. The event is designed to serve as an open exchange of ideas and strategies while also being an amazing opportunity to network in a non-client, non-competitive environment. It should be noted, however, that the event is limited to 350 attendees, so registering early is imperative.

IBTM America – June 15-17, 2016 – Nashville, TN

IBTM America is a 3-day event that features thousands of event professionals and suppliers from throughout the world. IBTM does a great job of facilitating networking opportunities both prior to and during the event.

Connect England – June 22-24, 2016 – Hartford, CT

A hosted buyer, appointment-only reverse trade show bringing together the most active planners who focus on New England destinations for their meetings and events, for three days of general sessions, workshops, pre-scheduled appointments and networking.

Techsytalk Live – June 24, 2016 – New York City Area

Techsytalk Live is a one-day conference and event technology showcase that is put together ‘for planners, by planners’. It is an exciting event that serves as an interactive experience for attendees to learn about event technology trends and advances in the industry. For event planners hoping to take their events to the next level, this is simply a must attend event because of the cutting edge event tech solutions on display.

Smart Meeting East National – June 26, 2016 – Miami, FL

It’s difficult to beat the setting of this Smart Meeting event. Expect to have plenty of opportunities for networking and gaining insights into top level industry leaders if you plan to attend.

PCMA Education Conference – June 26-29, 2016 – St. Louis, MO

The Professional Convention Management Association has more than 6,500 members and is known as a leading organization for meeting and event professionals. Their annual conference is known for providing attendees with educational material while also offering insight into some of the innovative techniques that are being used by leaders throughout the industry.


July Events

BizBash Live: The ExpoJuly 13, 2016 – Los Angeles, CA

1500 event professionals from around the globe convene to LA for a one-day bustling event planning conference. Yet another BizBash conference run by David Adler is put on with a series of workshops and guest speakers.

Smart Meeting Mid-Atlantic – July 14, 2016 – Washington, DC

Attending Smart Meeting Mid-Atlantic is a great idea for event professionals looking to network and gain educational insight in a less intimidating environment than other larger conferences in the industry.

August Events

Elevate – Presented By BizaBashAugust 3, 2016 – Washington, D.C.

David Adler, Founder and CEO joins a event professionals to speak at this one-day event focusing on event marketing, technology and design. Attending this event will give you insight into the future of tech software in the event industry.

ISES Live Conference for Creative Event Professionals – August 11-13, 2016 – Austin, TX

While there isn’t much information as of yet about this event, the International Special Events Society is known for putting together very strong conferences for their attendees. Expect to receive plenty of great information and networking opportunities if you decide to attend.

2016 ASAE Annual Meeting & Exhibition – August 13-16, 2016 – Salt Lake City, UT

The ASAE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition features over 5,000 event professionals that come together to network, participate in education sessions, and openly share ideas. The event caters to individuals looking to increase their knowledge of trade associations, membership societies, and voluntary organizations.

Connect Marketplace – August 25-27, 2016 – Grapevine, TX

A networking and education conference for association, specialty, corporate and incentive meeting professionals, and an appointment-only reverse trade show.

Connect Sports – August 25-27, 2016 – Grapevine, TX

The fastest-growing sports tourism industry trade show is now a partner with Olympic SportsLink, bringing the country’s largest collection of NGB decision makers to one show in the country: Connect Sports Marketplace, Olympic Sports Link and NGB Best Practices Seminar. The show is an education and networking conference for sports events professionals and an appointment-only reverse trade show.

September Events

MEET National 2016 – September 7-8, 2016 – Washington, DC

MEET National is specifically designed as a conference allowing association, corporate, independent, and government meeting planners to connect with suppliers. The event is perfect if you are looking for a way to expand your network and build relationships with industry decision makers. It’s the ideal event planning conference for those working as a planner for a government agency.

IBTM Latin America – September 7-8, 2016 – Mexico City, Mexico

The IBTM is an organization of top level meeting planners and regularly holds satellite events in countries throughout the world. The Latin America event features event professionals and suppliers from throughout South America.

IBTM China – September 7-8, 2016 Beijing, China

IBTM China is one of largest conferences in IBTM’s event portfolio and annually brings together thousands of event professionals and suppliers. The event provides an incredible opportunity for international networking as there are attendees from all over the world.

Smart Meeting West National – September 11, 2016 Biltmore, Arizona

Smart Meeting West National is an opportunity for event professionals to network and learn with other individuals in the meetings, travel, and hospitality industry.

MICE Asia Pacific Exhibition 2016 – September 21-22, 2016 – Singapore

The MICE exhibition is one of the largest events in the industry as it features thousands of meeting, conference, exhibition, and event organizers. The event provides a unique opportunity for individuals within this profession to meet and network with leading decision makers from hotels, venues, and event suppliers throughout the Asia Pacific.

October Events

Event Planner Expo – October 5, 2016 – New York, NY

While this event lasts only five hours (3-8 PM), it annually features well over 2,500 attendees. If attending, you can expect to have the opportunity to meet with hundreds of event and wedding planners, and industry decision makers.

IMEX AmericaOctober 18-20, 2016 – Las Vegas, NV

This 3-Day event is a powerhouse for making great connections, learning all about event and brand marketing, and an opportunity for professional and educational development. This event features over 3100 exhibitors and 2000 attendees.

Connect Faith – October 25-27, 2016 – Orlando, FL

A networking and education conference for faith-based meetings professionals of all religions and denominations, and an appointment-only reverse trade show.

Connect Florida – October 25-27, 2016 – Orlando, FL

A hosted buyer, appointment-only reverse trade show bringing together the most active Florida association planners, suppliers and industry experts for three days of general sessions, workshops, pre-scheduled appointments and networking.

The Signature C.E.O. Conference 2016 – October 31 & November 1, 2016 – College Park, Maryland

The Signature C.E.O. Conference is intended as a business intelligence event for wedding and event professionals. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry experts including Meryl Snow of Catersource, Marilyn Crouther of Hewlett Packard, Celebrity Chef Dana Eugene Herbert of Desserts by Dana, and many others.

November Events

EventSource101 Expo – November 6, 2016 – Arlington, VA 

The EventSource101 Expo is the only trade show for special event professionals in the Mid-Atlantic Area. Held annually, this show attracts hundreds of event specialists anxious to see the latest and greatest in special event technology, trends, and props.

ABC Business of Brides Annual Conference – November 6-8, 2016 – Dallas, TX

The Association of Bridal Consultants annually put together one of the premier events in the US for wedding planners and event professionals. The event features two full days of educational presentations and also includes a large trade show.

Smart Meeting Southwest – November 9, 2016 – Dallas, TX

This is the last of Smart Meetings’ 2016 events and is generally one of the more jam-packed events as industry professionals look to get ready for the next year.

EventTech Live  – London, U.K – November 9, 2016

Described as “Europe’s first dedicated exhibition and conference for event professionals with an interest in technology,” EventTech Live will allow you to see the best and brightest technology to help improve your events. It will features live demos, face to face connections with the companies, and an overall great opportunity to guide you to learning about the event design software industry.

BizBash Live: The ExpoNovember 15, 2016 – New York, NY

This one day high-impact trade show and conference allows you to network with event professionals at the top of the industry. It has been described as a the “summer school” for event planners, providing the opportunity to learn from the best and discover new upcoming trends in events.

Connect Texas – November 15-17, 2016 – Galveston, TX

An intimate event with appointments, networking opportunities, targeted education and intelligent conversation centered around diversity and multicultural events.

NorthStar Meetings Leadership Forum – November 15-17, 2016 – Indian Wells, CA

While this leadership forum is invite-only, attendees have an incredible opportunity to exchange ideas with meetings industry leaders and high level planners. The forum also allows attendees to network in a unique atmosphere where they can enjoy golf, spa treatments, and wildlife adventures with their peers.

Global Incentive Summit – November 26-28, 2016 – Monte Carlo, Monaco

Like most events on this list, the Global Incentive Summit is designed to provide an opportunity for planners around the world to learn and network with their peers. There are opportunities for one-to-one appointments and plenty of actionable advice provided by industry experts.


December Events

Coterie Retreat – December 5-8, 2016 – New Orleans, LA

The Coterie Retreat is well-known for the fact that it caters to women of color in the wedding and event planning industry. The event was put together as a way for attendees to fine-tune their event planning businesses while mastering best practices and networking with some of the top event professional minds in the country.

2016 Expo Expo! Annual Meeting & Exhibition – December 6-8, 2016 – Anaheim, CA

The IAEE puts together this meeting for individuals looking to understand more about the planning, management, and production of exhibitions and buyer-seller events. There are a many of opportunities for networking as thousands of industry experts annually attend this event planning conference.


January 2017 Events

ESPA Live! –  January 6-8, 2017 Austin, TX

This event, put on by the Event Service Professionals Association, is its 29th annual installment. Expect countless networking opportunities, conitinued education courses in the events industry, as well as keynote addresses from leading meeting planners.

The Special Event Show – January 10-12, 2017 – Long Beach, California

The Special Event Show is known as one of the industry’s premier conferences for event professionals. The event features over 5,000 individuals from the industry, providing over 100 education sessions and an incredible opportunity for networking

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