When and where to see and be seen

The 2016 meetings industry events calendar is so jam-packed it might be hard to decide which shows to attend. With niche-market trade shows drawing meeting specialists and international trade shows gaining in popularity, there are more options than ever for one-on-one appointments and networking.

Smart Meetings editors regularly participate in many meetings industry trade shows to gain insights, develop and maintain key contacts and have some fun. We can’t wait to see what we learn and who we meet throughout 2016. Here’s a sampling of educational and networking opportunities.


The first major events of the year will bring the meetings and events industry to Vancouver, Canada. The year kicks off with the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) annual conference Jan. 8−10 at the luxurious Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

The ESPA conference precedes Professional Convention Management Association Convening Leaders, which will take over Vancouver Convention Centre Jan. 10−13. Convening Leaders is always a great place to kick off the year, as more than 4,000 planners attend cutting-edge education sessions and hear inspiring keynote speakers.

Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) will hold its Destinations Showcase Feb. 9 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

For the third consecutive year, Smart Meetings is a sponsor of Global Pharmaceutical and Medical Meetings Summit, which will take place Feb. 10−12 at Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. This event draws the who’s who of this niche market, including representatives from such organizations and companies as Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Genentech.

MPI European Meetings & Events Conference 2016 (EMEC) will take place Feb. 7−9 in conjunction with Danish Meetovation concept at Radisson Blu Scandinavia Hotel, Copenhagen.

Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE) will take over Delano Las Vegas March 2−5 for its Incentive Travel Exchange.


IMEX, the older sister of IMEX America, will take place April 19−21 in Germany at Messe Frankfurt. In 2015, the show drew 14,398 participants, including 3,952 hosted buyers from 78 countries. It’s no surprise that the largest participation by planners came from Germany. The next largest contingent, 11 percent, hailed from the United States.

International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) will celebrate its 35th anniversary with IACC-Americas Connect April 19−20 in New York City. The event will feature multiple venues, including Convene Midtown East, Pier 60 and locations around Chelsea Market.

American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) will meet April 28 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., for its Springtime Expo, designed for learning.

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) is always looking for ways to improve its annual World Education Congress (WEC). In order to avoid the heart of the convention season in August, MPI has moved up its major convention, starting this year. The 2016 event will take place June 11−14 at Harrah’s Atlantic City Waterfront Conference Center in New Jersey.


DMAI Annual Convention is Aug. 1−4 at Minneapolis Convention Center, which always draws quantity and quality convention and visitors bureau representatives. CVBs are our best friends!

One of the best parties of the year everywhere it’s held, ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition is scheduled for Aug. 13−16 at Salt Palace in Salt Lake City.


IMEX America has become one of the biggest shows of the year, bringing together a terrific mix of meeting professionals and hospitality leaders from around the world. Who doesn’t enjoy partying with Europeans? The 2016 event is Oct. 18−20 at Sands Expo & Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Financial & Insurance Conference Planners Annual Conference will be Nov. 9−12 at Omni Nashville Hotel in Tennessee.

International Association of Expositions and Events Expo! Expo! is set for Dec. 6−8 at Anaheim Convention Center in California

IBTM Events Feature Marquee Venues

The six business travel trade shows presented this year by Reed Travel Exhibitions take advantage of some of the greatest meeting and event venues in the world. Reed has also selected incredible destinations to stage its annual industry events.

IBTM Arabia takes place Feb. 9−11 at the famous Jumeirah at Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi. The stunning five-star property features breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf and is located across the street from the equally impressive Emirates Palace.

Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) takes over Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Feb. 23−24. (For more information, see our Australia story)

IBTM America will touch down in one of the hottest meeting cities on the planet June 15−17, when Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (pictured) in Nashville hosts Reed’s U.S. business travel event. The resort boasts 600,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, which is divided among 152 rooms.

IBTM China is set for Sept. 7−8 in Beijing at China National Convention Center. During the 2008 Olympics, the convention center was site of the international broadcast center and several events.

IBTM Latin America will take place Sept. 7−8 at Centro Banamex in Mexico City. This venue raises the bar for sustainability in the region.

IBTM World wraps up Reed’s business travel shows Nov. 29−Dec. 1 at Fira Gran Via in Barcelona Spain. Formerly known as EIBTM, this show draws 4,000 meeting and event decision-makers for more than 78,000 one-on-one appointments.