Looking to push your boundaries? Attend one of this year’s most inspiring conferences.
As an #eventprof, you know that conferences are a prime opportunity to elevate your skills, expand your network, and swap ideas with industry influencers face-to-face. But with the sheer number of conferences held each year, it’s necessary to sift through the options and determine which offer the best value for you. To help you out, we’ve done the research and curated a list of the top conferences – both here at home and abroad – that should be on your radar in 2017. Learn more below, then let us know in the comments section which events you’ve attended in the past, any must-attend conferences we’ve missed, or which items on the list grabbed your interest – maybe we’ll see you there!
EVENTS INDUSTRY CONFERENCES
- The Special Event – January 10 – 12 in Long Beach, California
This yearly conference is one of the industry’s must-do experiences. You’ll be surrounded by inspiration – like a roaring ‘20s themed party – but you’ll also get down to the business of events, and can even choose your education track.
Why you should go: Over 100 education sessions, plus showcases, a large exhibition, and, of course, lots of networking with all of the other event profs who know this one’s a must-do.
- One Conference – March 14 in Calgary, Alberta
The Calgary chapters of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and the International Live Events Association (ILEA) are once again teaming up for ONE Conference 2017. The theme this year celebrates Canada 150, and the day promises education and inspiration, with talks by both industry heavy weights, and a paralympian swimmer.
Why you should go: A marketplace of top local talent, and relevant, educational talks by industry experts – including our own Director of Design, Stacy Harwood!
- CSE Live – March 28 – 30 in Toronto, Ontario
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Canada’s only national conference exclusively for event professionals. The event is designed to inspire new ideas and provide resources to enhance your work-life, and feed your creativity.
Why you should go: Expert speakers and conversational learning, supplier and peer connections, experiential exhibits and virtual worlds, new event ideas, and the Canadian Event Industry Awards Gala – this one has it all, tailored specifically to event professionals.
- MEA Reboot – April 30 – May 2 in Sydney, Australia
Australia’s largest events industry conference, MEA Reboot aims to push boundaries, challenge thinking, and set new industry standards.
Why you should go: Interesting and widely diverse speaking topics, from loving your clients to neuroplasticity to strategic risk and security management.
- BizBash Live – May 4 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; July 19 in Los Angeles, California; Fall 2017 in New York City, New York
With events in three locations, you get to choose where you’ll feel most inspired. There are various package options available, allowing you access to the exhibit floor, workshop sessions, networking luncheons, and parties.
Why you should go: Hear from innovators at Google, iHeartMedia, and more, rub elbows with thousands of other event pros, and hook yourself up with useful new vendors and suppliers.
- IMEX Frankfurt – May 16 – 18 in Frankfurt, Germany
Make use of your passport, and head overseas to one of the largest events in the world for travel, meeting, and event professionals.
Why you should go: This is a massive event with huge business and networking potential, plus 2017’s Talking Point is “Purposeful Meetings” – that’s something we can all get on board with.
- techsytalk LIVE – June 2 in New York City, New York
This is an event technology conference for planners, by planners. It’s a high-energy experience, described as being “designed for the planner who hustles HARD, yearns to learn, and is deathly afraid of being bored.”
Why you should go: Sharply focused on events, you’ll hear from industry top players on key trends and potential disruptors in the event world.
- Engage! Summits – June 5 – 8 in Grand Cayman; October 23 – 26 in Venice, Italy; December 11 – 14 in Cancun, Mexico
If you want a dose of luxury with your conference agenda, attend an Engage! Summit, held at the world’s top resorts in stunning locations worldwide. The conferences promise to bring together industry thought leaders with event professionals, for collaboration, inspiration, and mutual benefit.
Why you should go: Learn from the world’s top wedding and event professionals – and work on your tan in your downtime.
- ILEA Live – August 10 – 12 in Calgary, Alberta
2017 promises to be a special year as ILEA celebrates its 30th anniversary, so if you’ve never been to this event – now’s the time! The conference is educational and collaborative, and centers around the business of experiential creativity.
Why you should go: Strengthen your creative output and sharpen your business strategies… PLUS hear our own Dustin Westling, CSEP, and Stacy Harwood as session speakers!
- MPI Thought Leaders Summit – September 12 – 14 in Las Vegas, Nevada
This is the first Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Summit, where they’ll bring together industry thought leaders and strategic brand partners. The Summit supports the MPI Foundation, which offers grants and scholarships for MPI members.
Why you should go: Executive-level learning, intimate networking opportunities, and excellent golfing, if hitting the links is on your agenda.
- Event Tech Live – November 9 in London, UK
While you’ll have to find your way to London, Event Tech Live is actually a free event. Described as “Europe’s first dedicated exhibition and conference for event professionals with an interest in technology,” you’ll learn more about the best and brightest in the event technology world.
Why you should go: Live demos, connections with event tech companies, and sessions where you’ll learn about topics like event design software.
- ibtm world – November 28 – 30, in Barcelona, Spain
Nothing short of a “global event” for the meetings, incentives, conferences, events, and business travel industries, you’ll have endless opportunity to network with suppliers and buyers, as well as participate in the Knowledge Programme.
Why you should go: Connect with a massive industry community, and get inspired by touring the ACS Knowledge Village – three themed theatres on the show floor that illustrate the year’s conference theme in an immersive audio-visual experience.
MARKETING AND BUSINESS CONFERENCES
- The Gathering – February 22 – 24 in Banff, Alberta
Branding for The Gathering features a ‘secret society’ concept, complete with illuminati references and triangle logo – a strong, memorable choice appropriate for a conference about strong, memorable brands.The event is described as an ‘informal gathering’ where ‘enlightened’ marketing faithful gather to ‘study, honour, and celebrate the world’s best brands.’
Why you should go: Insider access to some major-league brands (Coca-Cola, AirBnB, Fender) and branding experts, PLUS The Gathering Music Festival happens immediately following the conference!
- Incite Marketing Summit – May 23 – 24 in San Francisco, California; October 24 – 25 in New York, New York
These conferences dig deep into marketing with focus on personalization, content and storytelling, and marketing attribution.
Why you should go: Get fly-on-the-wall close to the boardrooms of some of the world’s biggest brands, with 60+ expert speakers, and exclusive case studies.
- Unbounce Call To Action Conference – June 25 – 27 in Vancouver, BC
This marketing conference promises to cut out “recycled fluff,” giving you actionable, exciting content in its place. Some nice add-on perks include activities, after-parties and swag, and full conference notes and recordings.
Why you should go: Topics like conversion optimization, web psychology, and video marketing in a “non-stuffy” and social environment.
- INBOUND – September 25 – 28 in Boston, Massachusetts
INBOUND attracts thousands of marketing and sales professionals from almost every industry, and from all around the world. Designed to celebrate the “human, helpful side of business,” the conference offers to “provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to grow and transform your business.”
Why you should go: Educational breakouts, hands-on lessons, and inspiring keynotes with an impressive alumni list – past keynote speakers include Gary Vaynerchuk, Serena Williams, Alec Baldwin, and Arianna Huffington.
- The Post Forum – November 16 – 17 in Calgary, Alberta
This marketing forum is focused on disruption and innovation, bringing in speakers who have changed the marketing game in their industries, and providing workshops aimed at empowering you to do the same.
Why you should go: Learn how to infuse your marketing with ‘innovation, authenticity, and second-to-none storytelling,’ right here in Calgary at historic The Palace Theatre.
DIGITAL AND SOCIAL MEDIA CONFERENCES
- iMEDIA Social Media Conference – March 10 – 11 in Edmonton, Alberta
Organizers promise real, practical learning, and ‘no BS’. Keynote speakers for the 6th annual event are from Twitter Canada and DDB Canada, and breakout session topic aren’t finalized until just prior to the conference to ensure relevance – a choice that makes all-too-much sense to anyone working in social media.
Why you should go: Interactive, practical learning experiences guided by social media pros, and plenty of networking opportunities with your peers.
- Domopalooza – March 21 – 24 in Salt Lake City, Utah
This conference is worth a second look for anyone who wants to step up their data game. The organizers, Domo, are creators of a data-driven business management platform designed to empower everyone from the CEO to the newest hire with the business intelligence to make smarter, more informed decisions.
Why you should go: If you fancy a deep-dive into business analytics that will teach you how to get and use data insights to inform your marketing activities and your business as a whole, check Domopalooza out. Plus, with performances by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Jason Derulo, Kesha, and Miguel, the entertainment bar is set pretty high.
- The Social Shake Up – May 22 – 24 in Atlanta, Georgia
This social media conference features speakers, panels, and platform-specific interactive sessions designed to help you take your social media strategy to the next level.
Why you should go: Come away with new ideas for integrating social media into your overall business strategy, and a better understanding of current trends.
- SocialWest – June 14 – 16 in Calgary, Alberta
With their sold-out inaugural event in 2016, SocialWest hit the social media conference scene running. The exciting event has grown this year to include more speakers and experts, for an even more robust takeaway.
Why you should go: Customizable scheduling, expert instruction, and social media and digital insight for businesses of any size.
- MozCon – July 14 – 16 in Seattle, Washington
Speakers and workshops at MozCon are focused on forward-thinking and actionable learning in digital marketing must-haves like SEO, analytics, and social and content marketing.
Why you should go: In their words, “Exceptional speakers. Actionable tactics. Lots of snacks.”
- The Ignite Leadership Conference – March 12 – 14 in Banff, Alberta
Held at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, this is not your typical leadership conference. Ignite takes full advantage of the beautiful setting, using it to truly engage and inspire. Expect fireside conversations, group panels and workshops that include outdoor exploration sessions, and a demonstration by avalanche rescue dogs.
Why you should go: Engaging leadership skills training and natural networking opportunities – not to mention outdoor mountain activities, the Basecamp expo and lounge, and dogs. Need we say more?
CREATIVITY AND DESIGN CONFERENCES
- C2 Montréal – May 24 – 26 in Montréal, Quebec
C2 Montréal was imagined by Sid Lee, and Cirque du Soleil is a founding partner, resulting in an experience so unlike any other conference you’ve attended, we almost hesitate to call it a conference. The event “brings together commerce and creativity to explore trends, opportunities, disruptions, and major shifts on the horizon,” and promises to transform the way you do business.
Why you should go: You heard that part about Sid Lee and Cirque du Soleil, right? Enough said.
- Interior Design Show – January 19 – 22 in Toronto, Ontario; September 28 – October 1 in Vancouver, BC
With annual shows on both sides of the country, Interior Design Show is a platform for all things design, and showcases national and international concepts and products.
Why you should go: Exhibition featuring products, installations, and innovations, and the chance to hear from the design world’s most notable and talented design personalities.
- Neocon – June 12 – 14 in Chicago, Illinois
NeoCon is marking its 49th (!) annual conference this year, and with that kind of pedigree, it’s no wonder that this event attracts upwards of 50,000 design professionals. Staying true to the original vision, the show is focused on showcasing changing commercial design and business trends.
Why you should go: One large exhibition featuring 500 leading companies, nearly 100 educational programming opportunities, and countless moments of inspiration.
- Dinner by Design – June 1 and 2 in Calgary, Alberta; Vancouver, BC dates N/A; Toronto, Ontario dates N/A
We’re pretty sure we could attend all three locations throughout the year, and still be inspired. Tickets are available for Cocktail Art, Gala Dinner, or Public Viewing events, where celebrated designers – local and international – will wow you with their skills.
Why you should go: Three-dimensional dining installations that range from romantic to whimsical to downright outrageous, in the best possible way. Plus, we’ll be there – so come say hello!