Trade Shows for Event Planners

For those interested in identifying professional development opportunities and trade shows for event planners, the first step is to get involved in the local chapter of one of the industry professional associations, such as MPI or ISES.

The next step is to attend one of the national and/or international trade shows that offer excellent educational and networking opportunities with others in the field. The following highlights trade shows that event planners should consider attending:

MPI World Education Congress

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Meeting Professionals International (MPI) holds its World Education Congress each year in July or August in a different location within North America that includes education sessions focused on business, leadership and other career-development skills.

This program has a more international perspective than MPI's other two conferences (the Professional Education Conference-North America and the Professional Education Conference-Europe.)

Between 3,000 - 3,500 people from around the world attend WEC each year.

ISES Eventworld

The International Special Events Society holds ISES Eventworld® - An Institute for Professional Development each year in the summer. It is known as the premier continuing education event for the special events industry.

Eventworld includes education programs, leading industry speakers, leadership development, an international perspective, and industry recognition at The ISES Esprit Awards Celebration. Eventworld is also an excellent place for networking opportunities.

International Confex

International Confex is the United Kingdom's leading event exhibition, bringing people together who organize any kind of event with providers of venues, destinations and event support services both in the UK and internationally.

Confex includes educational programs for those whose responsibilities include events-related activities in corporate, agency and association environments. As the largest, most comprehensive event of its kind in the U.K., Confex is the place buyers come to compare, contrast, source and select new venues and services. More than 11,000 people attend Confex.

Idea Factory

Idea Factory is a four day trade show targeted to event planners, and includes educational seminars and workshops, a catering symposium, an expo and social events for networking. Owners of local event planning companies, professional caterers, entertainment brokers, special effects designers and tent rental companies will attend.

Idea Factory began in 1996, is attended by approximately 2,500 event professionals. The conference component provides educational seminars, evening showcases featuring the newest products and ideas, and the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards, honoring the best people and places in the industry.

Catering Executives Conference

The National Association of Catering Executives hosts an annual Educational Conference for on-premise caterers, off-premise caterers, event planners and industry vendors/suppliers.

Although caterers are the primary target for this event, event planners will learn about new trends and ideas that may be incorporated into their programs. Attendees will gain valuable insight into the planning and execution of food and beverag in an environment that includes networking, learning and professional development.

National Restaurant Association Show

The National Restaurant Assocation, Hotel-Motel Show is held annually in Chicago at McCormick Place in the spring. The show features more than 2,142 exhibitors showcasing products and services in more than 890 product categories. Nearly 74,000 people attended from all 50 states and 110 countries.

Major areas of focus include food, beverage, equipment, smallwares, apparel, tabletop, furnishings, design, technology, and services -- all areas of interest for good event planning. This show is not open to the public, so credentials reflecting foodservice or hospitality industry is required.

The Motivation Show

The Motivation Show brings together buyers of promotional products and incentives with industry suppliers, and attracts about 9,000 buyers and 6,500 exhibitors and other industry professionals.

Half of the exhitors are focused on promotional products (corporate gifts) and the other half promotes travel destinations around the world. In addition to this, the Motivation Show includes a series of seminars on effective incentive, recognition and promotion program planning.


EIBTM - The Global Meetings and Incentive Exhibition is the leading exhibition for the conference, incentives, events, business travel and meetings industry based in Europe. The 2007 event is being held in Barcelona, Spain.

The program includes an exhibition floor, networking opportunities and professional education. More than 2,700 international suppliers from more than 95 countries attend EIBTM.