As event professionals, we’re true believers in the importance of in-person events and interactions. So, it might not come a surprise that we strongly endorse attending an event marketing conference (or several) as one of the best things you can do for the future of your business, even during a time in which many professionals are choosing to keep their interactions with their peers online and allocate their conference budget elsewhere.
There are a ton of benefits that you and your business may experience as a result of attending or sponsoring a conference. First, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from, or meet, several industry experts that can provide you with great insights and content. Not only will this help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in event marketing trends, but it can also give you insights and content ideas that you can use for your business once you’re back home.
Next, event marketing conferences are great networking opportunities, and you’re bound to meet some great people, influencers and even qualified leads as a result of your serendipitous conversations, none of which would be possible without in-person events like conferences. Last but not least, you can extract even more value from an industry conference by sponsoring, hosting a tradebooths, or even hosting your own "microevent" to target high-value prospects and customers who are also in attendance. This way, you'll set yourself up to not only glean useful insights while at the conference, but also to generate some qualified leads or build stronger relationships with propsects and customers.
Now that we’ve convinced you why these conferences are so great to experience first-hand, which one(s) should you choose? We’ve outlined seven of the top event marketing conferences that you should attend within the next year, in chronological order.
**This post was updated on February 6, 2017, to update dates and locations for these conferences in 2017.**
1. Experiential Marketing Summit
When: May 3-5, 2017
Where: McCormick Place, Chicago
If your brand is knee-deep in all things experiential marketing (or are pursuing this increasingly popular avenue), you’ll want to keep the Experiential Marketing Summit on your radar. Put on by Event Marketer magazine, the masterminds behind EventTech, this conference will cover all things experiential in a format similar to their other major trade show, with a large emphasis on content and hands-on experiential tech.
At the Experiential Marketing Summit, you and more than 1,500 other marketers can expect to learn how to best use live experiences to amplify your brand’s reach, convert leads to customers and drive overall sales. At the show’s end, you’ll walk away with new ideas that you can use to upgrade your existing event marketing and trade show campaigns, and will have a better understanding of how you can intertwine content with new event technology to increase engagement and event marketing ROI.
2. techsytalk LIVE
When: June 2nd, 2017
Where: Convene, 117 W. 46th Street, New York, NY
techsytalk LIVE is an annual conference put on by our good friend Liz King at Liz King Events. It's a great interactive tech conference and showcase put on by event planners, for event planners, that was created so that start-up companies could showcase and spread the word about their innovative products and services. Suffice to say, if you're looking for the newest and coolest event tech around, techsytalk will have you covered in a big way.
3. ILEA LIVE
When: August 10-12, 2017
Where: Hyatt Regency, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Designed with the creative event professional working in verticals like film, fashion, art, design, and music in mind, ILEA LIVE is a conference that focuses on the role of creativity, collaboration and innovation in live event experiences. The conference places a strong emphasis on networking and peer interaction, allowing event planners to foster creativity and collaborate to come up with amazing ideas for high quality events. It’s also full of sessions that will push you to think outside of the box and come up with creative solutions to common problems.
All in all, this is one that creative event professionals won’t want to miss if they’re looking for an interactive experience to help stimulate new ideas, share those ideas with others, and generally foster collaboration.
4. MEET National Conference
When: September 6-7, 2017
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
As its name suggests, MEET Conference attracts the industry’s best meeting planning professionals and suppliers. The attendees have substantial buying power, are very selective about the events that they attend (the conference claims that 60% of attendees attend no other industry event), and come to the conference ready to conduct business.
At MEET, it's easy for attendees to accomplish their conference-specific goals. Attendees are able to pre-plan meetings with suppliers after receiving a list and booking instructions before the show, ensuring that they get to connect with those they’d like to meet most. There’s also a large educational component to the show and various opportunities to earn the continuing education units that you may need by attending forums. Best of all, you’ll be able to see and learn about the latest creations in meeting planning, and will be able to tie those that work best for you into your own organization.
5. OFFLINE Summit
When: Fall, 2017 (exact dates TBD)
Where: New York, NY (venue TBD)
Event Farm's second annual OFFLINE Summit, the only conference solely focused on how offline experiences drive business results, will not be your average event marketing conference. Instead, this conference will explore the power of engagement and how brands of all shapes and sizes can, and should, use live events and experiences to move the needle forward. With four unique content tracks–creating experiences, experiential technology, the business offline and agency growth–as well as top-notch speakers, you'll explore the hottest issues surrounding events and experiences with the most innovative minds in the industry. After the speaker sessions have come to an end, you'll also be able to attend OFFLINE's Experiential Wonderland, where you and the other attendees will have the chance to experience some of the newest experiential technologies that you learned about at the summit first-hand, all while enjoying great company, conversations, food and cocktails.
OFFLINE Summit will be an amazing two-day experience for any senior-level marketers, experiential marketers, event managers, agency professionals, brand marketers and creative directors, as well as any other professional who spends part of their marketing budget on offline experiences.
6. IMEX America
When: October 10-12, 2017
Where: The Sands Expo, Las Vegas, NV
While this show isn’t the best fit for “true event marketers” as it pertains to brand marketing, we still thought it poignant to include IMEX America on this list. IMEX America is a critical event for professionals in the meetings industry, particularly those dealing with corporate meetings and events and incentive travel, and is the largest show of its kind in the US. Those who attend come from all industry segments, from agencies to associations to corporations and beyond, and are strongly focused on the business aspect of the conference and are ready to buy. They also come for education, as should be expected, and can choose from a variety of different session formats like seminars, campfires, a research pod and hot topic tables.
One unique aspect of IMEX America is its Hosted Buyer Program, which gives qualified meeting industry buyers the chance to do business with suppliers from across the globe while learning from the best in the industry and networking with their peers, often in small group format. The program puts the power in the buyers’ hands, as they choose the vast majority of their appointments with the exhibitors that are most appealing to them. Even better, if you qualify, IMEX America can pick up the cost for your flight and hotel accommodations, making the program even more appealing.
When: November 13-15, 2017
Where: The Paris, Las Vegas, NV
Event marketers across the Fortune 1000 and front-of-the-pack marketing agencies typically attend the EventTech conference. This show is one of the world’s only conferences and expos that focuses entirely on how event planners can use technology, in particular social media, to optimize their event and trade show presence.
While there, you can expect to learn about the latest digital trends and best practices and how these insights will take your events to the next level. What makes this show particularly special is its strong emphasis on the hands-on aspect of event tech. You’ll first hear about new tech from major brands, and then will simultaneously have the opportunity to test-drive hundreds of those technologies yourself, just a few feet away from your previous location in the EventTech Campus. With this novel approach to conference learning, you’ll be better equipped to make fast decisions about the event technologies and their surrounding best practices that will produce the best results for you and your brand.
Did you miss last year's OFFLINE Summit? Don't worry—you can watch all of the session recordings now on demand.
Event pross, which are your favorite shows to attend each year? What do you expect to get out of them? Let us know in the comments below, or tweet us @eventfarm.