Tables upon tables of vendors. Business cards you never quite know what to do with afterward. A plethora of free bags, pens, phone cases, lanyards and whatever else people are using as promotional gifts right now.
Those are the things most people expect from a conference. But when you're going to a conference for event planners, planned by the best of the best, you can (and should) expect more.
These event planner conferences will be the difference between keeping your business the same and taking it to the next level. Learn about the ones you should put on your schedule (organized by month), below.
June: London Tech Week
While technically London Tech Week isn't an event planning conference, it's a week-long of events you don't want to miss. From getting inspiration to meeting the right people, you need to book your ticket into the English Capitol.
This event is especially important if you work with tech-based clients, and in 2019, who doesn't? If you're trying to expand your business to more tech clients, you should hop on a plane and go, too.
You'll meet so many cool people and London isn't a bad place to hang out. You'll need to book your tickets, like, now - since the conference itself is the 10th through the 16th of June.
You don't have to be there for the whole show if you can't swing that, so make it work for your schedule.
The Meetings Show
This event focuses on event planners that work with corporate clients, planning big meetings in-house and on the go. If you're someone that does that, corporate retreats or trainings, you've got to get to this event.
It, too, is in London. In fact, you could just put yourself up in London for the whole month of June.
It's less tech-oriented than the London Tech Week, but that doesn't mean there won't be a big name and big money clients there.
In fact, the even prides itself on helping event planners not only network with clients, but with venues. If you're looking for contact with a big venue, like a famous hotel, they'll probably be there.
Their show line is even, "The Focus is on You". You don't see many events like this, where the
The event itself is the 26th and 27th of June, in Olympia, London.
They're even still looking for ideas and papers for classes at the next session in 2020. If you think you can teach something or deliver something of value to other professionals, click here.
As if your June schedule wasn't already packed enough, you're going to have to choose between the meetings show and the OCMA conference.
Or you could leave the 27th and catch the last two days of it. You'll be quite a bit jet-lagged, since the previous is in London and PCMA is in sunny Los Angeles, California.
This conference focuses on trends and education more than anything else, though of course there will be networking. If you're looking for an experience that's more teaching and less vendor display tables, this one is for you.
It's also a great choice for those of us who took a little break from event planning and are ready to jump back in. They'll have sessions on how tech is changing our industry and other industry news and trends.
Events in July: Cvent Connect and RISE
July is another month where you'll have to make some hard "where will I go?" decisions. Both conferences are on the same days, one in Las Vegas and the other in Hong Kong.
Here are the details on what you're choosing between.
Cvent Connect: Las Vegas
If you're someone that does all of their event planning (or most of it) on software, you need to go to this conference. In just three days you can get 150 hours or more of training on Cvent technology.
You can also think of it as a mini London tech week, with all the big-time tech reps that will be there. And everyone loves an excuse to go to Las Vegas.
It won't be a gamble if you decide to go to this conference, in the newly expanded MGM conference center. You may even get some one on one time with the biggest names and trainers Cvent has.
The conference is from the 8th to the 11th of July. Remember to bring some swimwear or sunscreen for any downtime (if you have it).
RISE: Hong Kong
If you're not into the idea of Vegas in July (can you say blazing hot?) maybe you want to get your passport out and head to China. The RISE Hong Kong summit is the same days, the 8-11th of July.
RISE is a relatively new conference and it's like have tech and half event planning. It's one of the conferences that attracts some of the best people from all over the globe. If you choose to go to any show in July (and you can travel far) make it be this one.
It's not only a conference for networking, but it's also an incubator and discussion place for new ideas and trends.
Deciding Between the July Events
If you use Cvent, go to the Las Vegas event. It's very specific and you'll get the information you can really use on a day to day basis.
If you're looking to expand your business or get more ideas, then go to RISE. (Granted you don't use or need training in Cvent)
August - Chicago, and Minneapolis
You have two choices, again, in August, but this time they don't overlap.
GBTA Convention - Chicago
If you're someone that works with travel buyers and plans travel, you have to get to this event. It boasts an attendance of over 7,000 professionals.
That's huge - and those were just past numbers. Who knows if it'll be even bigger this year?
When it comes to networking and influence, this is a big contender too. Of last year's guests, 95% of them said they'd use people they met at the expo over others who weren't there.
It's from August 3-7th, so if you live down south, it'll be a good way to go up North and escape (some) from the heat. You should also plan to have some hotdogs (without ketchup) and great pizza while you're there.
If you don't do a lot of work with travel clients or plan events in different places, this might not be the event for you. Instead, you should head to ...
The International Live Events Association is a big name in event planning. They know what they're talking about and they sure know how to plan a great event for event planners.
This is another conference that isn't just about vendors getting sales and leads - the conference is truly catered around you, the event professional.
They're looking to help you with strategies and make your planning more efficient, from the first call to the day of. It's like they're there to make you better as a professional so you can throw better events.
This year they're boasting speakers like Mark Freeman, Mary Ellen Reihsen, Dan Bolton, Melanie Corey-Ferrini, and Patrick Talty.
There are more - but we can't go into them all.
If you want to go to this conference, book your plane tickets for the 8th to 10th of August. They're having it at the Hyatt in Minneapolis, MN. Summer is pretty much the only time you want to head to that state, so cross it off your list then.
September: IMEX America
If you're looking to go to Las Vegas when it's not quite so hot, you'll want to attend IMEX America. It's the 10-12 of September, and to be honest, it's a blast.
It's one of the biggest events of the year, and you'll find networking opportunities to be so many, you run out of places to put other people business cards.
They're famous for coming up with conceptual events that are new to the event planning space. You may run into vendors you've never seen before - or find old friends. You just never know.
And it's the only event in September, so it's worth checking out.
October: The Event Planner Expo
New York, New York. The big apple - the headquarters for many businesses and the location of all the best (at least social) events.
Of all of these conferences, this is the one most for event planners, not just vendors, or locations. It's truly a haven for the professional trying to build their business without plateauing or getting stuck and burnt out.
On the second day, their keynote speaker is Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of Vayner Media. If you don't know who that is, he and his company are the # 1 expert on social media and business growth.
You'll also hear from Colin Cowie, whose name you should recognize from the industry.
Amy Landino, Rae Majors-Wildman, and Lauren Goldberg are all speakers as well. If you want to get the comprehensive list of speakers, click here.
If you hurry, you can still apply to speak there as well. Find out more about ticket sales and how to register for the event of October here.
November: Dreamforce 2019 & XLIVE Las Vegas
IF you're looking to go to something on the West coast, you can plan to be in San Francisco from the 19th to the 22nd of November. The Dreamforce conference is more based on education and skill than it is finding vendors.
It's an event put on by Salesforce, so you know they'll pull out the stops. Learn some new skills and get new ideas at this San Fran event.
Are you feeling a little European or want to escape the winter where you are? Head to Barcelona, Spain for IBTM world. From the 19-21st of November, you'll find one of the biggest events of the year. They boast over 15,500 attendees.
If you're looking to make international contacts, then this is your November event. It's both vendor and learning based, so it's a good mix of opportunities.
You may want to leave a day or so to hang out in Barcelona, one of the most art-filled cities in the world.
XLIVE: Las Vegas
Yet another event planning conference in Las Vegas, we have XLIVE. They do more events, talks, and workshops about what happens at live events (and how to plan for that) than the actual planning process of them.
That's not to say it's not a good fit for event planners, it certainly is. Especially as our events start getting more and more "live" thanks to virtual attendance and technology. You'll find leaders and speakers from almost every industry here, and it's a great place to transform how you think of events.
You can experience this event from the 17th to the 20th of November, so you'll have to decide whether you'd rather stay Stateside or head to Barcelona.
Event Planner Conferences: Choosing Your Tickets
We can't go to every conference ever unless you're young and aren't yet tied down by a family. But there are some, like the Event Planner Expo in October that you don't want to miss.
The longest running and biggest conferences will give you the most bang for your buck, but it's worth going to one or two smaller conferences too. Both types have their pros and cons.
If you want more information about event planner conferences and what happens there, check out this schedule for an example.