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The Top 20+ Trade Shows & Event Planning Conferences in 2020

The events industry puts on some of the most fantastic conferences and trade shows — fitting, as it’s an opportunity to showcase innovative ideas and bold new concepts. We’ve been checking off events from our 2019 event planning conferences list, and we’re already looking forward to 2020.

If you’re like us, you’re probably already looking ahead to 2020. But before we cover next year’s top events, here are our favorites for 2019. Yes, a few have passed — but there’s still time to fit some into your schedule! Check them out here:

Below, we’ve rounded up 20 event planning conferences and trade shows happening in 2020. We’ve organized them into groups:

We hope to see you at a few throughout the year! Don’t forget to check back as the year progresses — we’ll update this post with new conferences and details.

Explore the Top Event Planning Conferences in 2020

Demand for meetings and events—and talented event planners—is on the rise. Stay sharp with some of the greatest minds in the event management business. Check out these conferences geared toward event coordinators, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just building your business.

1. Cvent CONNECT

June 15-18, 2020 | Caesars Forum | Las Vegas

Cvent CONNECT is the world’s premier event technology conference that brings together meetings, events, and hospitality professionals to evolve and inspire their meeting and event programs, and put cutting-edge strategies into practice.

At Cvent CONNECT, you’ll open your eyes to a world of insights. It’s a great way to walk in the shoes of your attendees and deepen your understanding of the tech-savvy event planner. Cvent CONNECT will leave you with a clearer picture of what’s possible with perfect vision.

2. The Special Event & Catersource

March 9-12, 2020 | Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Nevada

The Special Event (TSE) is the largest events industry trade show and conference. In 2020, Catersource and The Special Event join forces to boost the value of this catering and event management conference. Mingle with thousands of your peers as you network, learn, and share. Choose from over 100 education sessions; earn continuing education credits toward CMP Certification; meet more than 500 decor, equipment, floral, and other suppliers; participate in your choice of 200+ engaging and informative sessions; learn from more than 300 expert speakers—The Special Event is a conference to catch if you can.

Additional programs from The Special Event include:

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3. EMS2020 & EVENTtech by Event Marketer

May 11-13, 2020 | McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, Illinois

EVENTtech and the Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) merged in 2019 to bring events industry tech partners to the EventTech Village. Explore the Solutions Center for service and product demos, meet industry pros from around the globe, learn from brands that are changing the marketing and events scene, and grow your network at this premier training conference. This conference offers plenty of opportunities for those new to the business, as well.

4. Wedding MBA

September 16-17, 2020 | Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada

Wedding MBA is the largest conference for wedding industry professionals. Attend over 120 educational seminars, meet with wedding specialists and vendors, connect with more than 5,500 attendees, and discover the latest tech, marketing, and style trends in wedding coordination.

5. Convene

February 2020 | Vilnius, Lithuania

Convene is a prime opportunity for meetings and events industry coordinators, corporate events organizers, buyers, and suppliers in the Baltic Sea region to connect, share, and learn. Convene’s carefully curated schedule includes gala networking events, Meet-the-Expert sessions, and an Education Programme for attendees.

6. PCMA Convening Leaders

January 5-8, 2020 | San Francisco, California

PCMA Convening Leaders offers four days of inspirational presentations, real-world case studies, peer exchange, and access to leading event solutions providers. Convening Leaders aims to “disrupt + deliver” with speakers, networking activities, brain dates, and thought-provoking presentations to inspire innovation through the latest event tech, strategies, and education. Business event professionals from around the world come together at this collaborative convention.

7. International Confex

February 25-26, 2020 | ExCeL London

International Confex moves to ExCeL for 2020, a transition sparked by the exhibition’s continual growth as a premier event planning trade show. Meet with 350 suppliers and service providers, connect with fellow experts, grow your network, and discover the latest event technology solutions. Registration for International Confex includes admission to the Event Production Show and the PA Show.

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Best Conferences for Hospitality and Catering Professionals

8. NACE Evolve Leadership Conference

January 24-27, 2020 | Location TBA

The National Association for Catering & Events (NACE) hosts the Evolve Conference for event professionals and caterers. Learn from industry leaders, explore the latest trends, and attend inspiring sessions that explore the latest in events management, technology, and design.

9. HRC

March 3-5, 2020 | ExCeL London

Experience four shows targeted to the foodservice and hospitality industry at HRC at ExCeL London. Hoteliers, restaurants, and catering businesses gather at this conference to discover the latest trends in the industry. Discover cutting-edge technology for hospitality pros, find decor, furnishing, tableware, and design inspiration, learn the latest foodservice solutions ‘for chefs, by chefs,’ and enjoy demonstrations of innovative catering and kitchen equipment. Connect with leading suppliers and producers, as well as thousands of hospitality pros at HRC in 2020.

10. International Restaurant & Foodservice Show of New York

March 8-10, 2020 | New York, New York

Attend the restaurant and foodservice industry’s largest trade show in the Northeastern US for demonstrations, education sessions, networking, and more. More than 400 vendors present products, equipment, tech, and solutions for the food and beverage industry. Meet distributors, connect with peers, and gain insights into the latest culinary trends. Education sessions include marketing, bar and beverage, operations, team-building, and more—with many sessions eligible for continuing education credits.

11. GBTA Convention 2020

July 25-29, 2020 | Denver, Colorado

With over 7,000 attendees and 400 exhibiting organizations, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) convention is the largest business travel event. Enjoy exclusive opportunities for networking, connect with exhibitors, find the travel and tech solutions your business needs, and attend your choice of 175+ education and professional development sessions.

12. IAVM VenueConnect

July 26-29, 2020 | Long Beach, California

The International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) VenueConnect Conference and Trade Show provides targeted education and networking opportunities for venue management professionals, including convention centers, stadiums, performing arts centers, universities, and more. Attend small group sessions for hands-on, interactive educational experiences that focus on venue best practices.

13. Skift Europe 2020

April 28, 2020 | London

Attend Skift Europe for a one-day event that focuses on global travel trends. Hospitality and tourism pros can explore the latest in travel industry developments, both regional and worldwide. The larger Skift Global Forum takes place September 25-26, 2019 in New York City—we will update this guide with 2020 dates when they are announced.

14. ADMEI (Association of Destination Management Executives International) Annual Conference

January 30 – February 1, 2020 | San Juan, Puerto Rico

The 25th annual ADMEI conference serves destination management company owners and operations staff. DMC pros attend ADMEI to take advantage of extensive networking and education opportunities.

Professional Development Conferences in 2020

Hands-on workshops, education sessions, discussions, and lectures—2020 is brimming with conferences and trade shows for professional development.

Advance your leadership skills, collaborate to overcome obstacles, and hear inspirational keynote speakers offer targeted growth and improvement strategies at these conferences.

15. MPI World Education Congress 2020

June 6-9, 2020 | Grapevine, Texas

MPI WEC is an annual list-topper—MPI members and non-members attend from around the globe each year. Join thousands of attendees to experience more than 80 career-focused education sessions and additional certificate programs to advance your skills as a meetings and events organizer. Make connections through shared experiences at this exceptional conference.

16. ESPA 2020 Annual Conference

January 10-12, 2020 | Denver, Colorado

The ESPA annual conference focuses on interactive education opportunities and networking for event service professionals. Earn continuing education credits with interactive workshops, or apply for the leadership track. Engage with peers in like disciplines, take advantage of breakout sessions, and hear presentations from featured speakers.

17. IMEX America

September 15-17, 2020 | Las Vegas, Nevada

Gain insight from trade experts and explore creative solutions through small group sessions, one-on-one discussions, interactive meetings, and classroom-style seminars at IMEX America. You’ll connect with corporate executives and leaders in the meetings industry over four days.

18. CBI Pharma Forum 2020

March 8-11, 2020 | New York, New York

Healthcare and pharma meeting management professionals join at Pharma Forum for education and relationship-building exercises. This conference allows ample time to network with others involved in biotech and health industry events management, including hoteliers and suppliers.

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Conferences for Hospitality and Events Technology

Explore the latest technology trends and solutions for the hospitality and events industries. Connect with innovative startup companies, discover emerging tech, explore creative solutions, and more at these tech-centric conventions.

19. C2 Montréal 2020

May 27-29, 2020 | Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Making connections happens on the fly at C2, a three-day immersive event that relies on experiences—rather than booths and business cards—for networking. Creativity is C2’s solution to professional and business development. Annually, 6,500+ participants from more than 50 countries attend this multitrack convention. Explore collaborative sessions, labs, and out-of-the-box brainstorming sessions that aim to solve business problems through creative solutions.

20. Startup Grind Global Conference

February 11 & 12, 2020 | Silicon Valley, California

Educational content and networking abound at the Startup Grind Global Conference, but there exists a unique opportunity at this gathering. Startups attend this conference to gain exposure and meet potential partners and investors—and you may find answers to your individual business woes, as well.

21. HT-NEXT

2020 Date and Location TBA

Hospitality professionals rely on the educational seminars and networking sessions at the annual HT-NEXT conference, produced by Hospitality Technology. Be sure to check out the event’s exclusive Startup Alley, where fledgling tech companies showcase bold solutions designed for hoteliers, restaurateurs, and event coordinators.  

22. HITEC by HFTP®

June 15-18, 2020 | San Antonio, Texas

Attend productive and informative seminars at Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®), produced by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®). This expo focuses on trending hospitality solutions and includes a pitch competition and technology showcase sessions.

Or, attend HITEC Europe, April 21-23, 2020 in Palma Mallorca, Spain.

From large-scale conventions to smaller skills-based events, these are the top events industry conferences and trade shows to attend in 2020. Don’t forget to check back as the year progresses—we’ll be updating this post with new conferences as we learn the details and dates.

Now you’re all set to attend the best event planning trade shows and conferences this year!

Up next, discover the best skills for event planning success, and learn about becoming a certified meeting planner.

Do you have any other favorite events or are you hosting an event? Let us know on Twitter.

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