trade shows for event planners

The Best Tradeshows for Event Planners

Like most industries, event planning boasts a wide range of trade show opportunities for professionals to attend. Each trade show presents planners with the chance to further their education, network with other professionals, and practice leadership skills in an environment designed to foster motivation and creativity. Even as a new planner, trade shows are something you should participate in!

Why attend trade shows?

Trade shows are an opportunity for furthering your education after you’ve become a working professional. They are also a chance to network with other professionals that you might not otherwise have access to. Many planners attend trade shows to gather inspiration and get motivated. If you really take advantage of your time at a show and attend the events with an eager attitude, you will most likely come out of the experience full of ideas that you can’t wait to put into action!

Wedding Fashion Show for wedding planners

What kinds of activities are offered?

One of the biggest selling points of trade shows is that they offer educational seminars and leadership workshops, many of which you receive a certificate for completing. These certificates might be recognized by some businesses and associations as documentation of further education or recertification. Each activity, as well as the social aspects of the show, presents great networking opportunities. Additionally, most trade shows feature caterers, florists, and other vendors from different areas displaying their services so that event planners can see the different products, ideas, and service options that are available to them in the upcoming season.

Who usually attends trade shows?

The kinds of trade shows that event planners are usually encouraged to attend are often marketed to MICE professionals, or people who play a role in ‘meetings, incentive, conferences, and exhibitions’. This industry is also sometimes referred to as the ‘meetings, incentive travel, and special events’ industry, or just the ‘meetings industry’. Event planners make up a large portion of the attendees at trade shows and conferences marketed toward MICE professionals.

Professional Event Planner at a Trade Show

Where are they?

Event planning trade shows take place all over the world! Depending on your area, there might be applicable trade shows or conferences near you, or it might be necessary for you to travel. If you work in a big city, the chances are good that some type of trade show will take place near you. Many groups and associations, both national and international, host shows throughout the year. If you’re working within a smaller industry, however, you might have to travel in order to access events like these. Some smaller trade shows are marketed either specifically to that area or to event planners throughout your country, while very large shows host attendees from all over the world and adopt an international focus.

Which trade shows are worth attending?

The trade shows that you choose might depend on your location and what you have access to, but some shows are so well known that they attract attendees from all over the world. Here are some trade shows that might be worth your time!


Each year, ISES (International Special Events Society) hosts a three day trade show designed to enable professional event planners to continue learning about their industry by networking and interacting with their peers. The event features guest speeches from notable industry members, educational workshops and seminars, and leadership development activities. Participants are encouraged to think about the industry on an international scale in order to accommodate attendees from around the world. It is also designed specifically to foster creativity and encourage collaboration between planning professionals to throw high quality events. Registration does cost a fee, which is cheaper for actual ISES members, but any MICE oriented professional is welcome to attend. Planners can even stream certain parts of the event live online if they can’t be there!

International Confex

The International Confex trade show is based in London, England, but hosts attendees from all over the world and is geared toward and international audience. This is the largest MICE oriented trade show in the UK, and it welcomes event planners, vendors, and service providers of any kind within that industry. The aim of the trade show is to support event planning careers and provide planners with advice, assistance, information, and inspiration so they can hold the highest quality events possible worldwide. Planners attending Confex use the show as an opportunity to seek new venues and services, compare prices, and get new ideas. Attendees do have to register, but the show is free.

Event Solutions Catersource Conference and Tradeshow

The Event Solutions Catersource Conference and Tradeshow, a four day event in Las Vegas, Nevada, is a well know show targeted specifically toward event planners! The show holds seminars, workshops, social events for networking, and even a catering symposium. Although the event is primarily for planners, other events-related service providers attend to display products that planners might find useful or inspiring. Participants can also attend the Event Solutions Spotlight Awards, which honor some of the best people and places in the industry. The event is not marketed specifically as an international show, but it is undoubtedly a valuable networking opportunity for any planner. Various pricing packages are offered as registration, including a full priced all-access pass or entry fees for individual events.

IMEX America

One of the most well known ‘meetings industry’ trade shows is the International Media Educators Exchange Group’s World Exhibition for Incentive, Travel, Meetings, and Events. This is hosted in the United States for North American planners and also in Frankfurt for European planners. The show aims to encourage planners to network together and learn from each other in order to advance within the industry. Various opportunities are offered for planners to see vendor showcases, go to leadership workshops and take advantage of educational opportunities. The event is free to attend, but you must register online in advance or on-site.

IncentiveWorks Meetings and Events Show

IncentiveWorks is a Canadian meetings and events show that is open to anyone in the event planning industry. The event offers a display of products and services for planners to consider, as well as social opportunities for networking. The show also features educational programs in the form of sessions and workshops focusing on how to execute the most effective and interesting events, as well as motivational speakers. The emphasis of the event is placed on motivating business owners and providing employees with incentive. The material is marketed primarily toward Canadian planners, but global perspectives are also presented. Attendees are required to register, but the trade show is free.

Trade Show for event planners where event planning businesses can network

An emphasis on continued education

Attending tradeshows and event conferences geared towards leadership and learning can be extremely beneficial networking opportunities, especially for new planners. If you’re interested in learning more about the world of event planning and the kinds of exciting trade shows you’ll be able to attend as a planner, check out the courses here at QC Event School!

Are there any tradeshows for event planners you enjoy attending, or hope to attend some day, either locally or internationally? Let us know in a comment!

3 responses to “The Best Tradeshows for Event Planners”

    Gabriella Di Mito says:

    My name is Gabriella and I am starting and event planning company.

    I would love to attend a event planning seminar ,can you please send me details on when and where your next one will .

    Thank you,


    Ana Scholtes says:

    Hi Gabrielle, thanks for your comment! We don’t hold seminars, but if you’re interest in taking an online course we offer several! You can check them out here. 🙂

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