The Top 22 Professional Associations for Event Planners

January 9, 2019

Tom Pick

Tom Pick is a digital marketing consultant who works with event management platform developer G2Planet to share the company's insights and knowledge with corporate event marketing professionals.

It's no surprise that military personnel, police officers, firefighters, and pilots have some of the most stressful jobs. But it may surprise you what the number five position on that list is.

According to recent research from CareerCast, the fifth most stressful role is events coordinator. Travel, long (and often odd) hours, interaction with the public, fixed deadlines, and the myriad details involved all contribute to that stress level.

Yet one of the biggest challenges cited by top experts that event professionals face has little to do with the day to day stress: it's "keeping up with the speed of change." Trends, technology, and attendee expectations are constantly and rapidly changing. Event planners need to stay on top of these changes to continue honing their skills and creating unique experiences.

Fortunately, there are a variety of resources event pros can tap to help stay current. They can follow top events industry influencers on social media, read the best industry blogs and publications, and tune in to the best events podcasts.

Being social by nature, event organizers can also join any of a number of professional associations. These groups host events targeted at event and meeting planners, provide education industry content, and enable event pros to connect with peers to share knowledge—and even relieve a little stress.

Here are nearly two dozen of the best professional associations for meeting and event planners.

1. American Planning Association (APA)

With more than 42,000 members from 100+ countries, the APA promotes excellence in event planning, industry education and citizen empowerment, plus tools and support to meet the challenges of growth and change.

2. Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

MPI is the largest global meeting and event industry association. The organization provides innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities, and serves as a voice for industry promotion and growth. MPI has membership of 60,000 meeting and event professionals across 90 chapters and clubs in 19 countries.

3. Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

PCMA is one of the world’s largest networks of business events strategists, with more than 7,000 members. It provides education, publishes PCMA Convene magazine, and advocates for the industry by showing what business meetings, conferences, conventions, incentive travel, trade shows and exhibitions collectively do for people, businesses and communities.

4. International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

ICCA represents the world's leading suppliers in handling, transporting, and accommodating international meetings and events. It's membership includes more than 1,100 companies and organisations in almost 100 countries. ICCA focuses on the international association meetings sector, representing the top destinations worldwide plus specialist suppliers.

5. American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

ASAE is a leading organization for association management, representing both organizations and individual association professionals. Organizational members include trade associations and individual membership societies, representing almost every sector of the economy. ASAE's 42,000 individual members—association professionals and industry partners—work in or partner with organizations in more than a dozen association management disciplines.

6. International Live Events Association (ILEA)

ILEA is a global community of creative event professionals. The organization's training, research, and meetings cover all aspects of live event production and management. ILEA members are primarily event planners/producers, but also include caterers, meeting planners, decorators, audio-visual technicians, convention coordinators, entertainers, educators, journalists, photographers, hotel sales managers and more.

7. Events Industry Council (EIC)

The EIC's 30+ member organisations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry. It  seeks to advance the events industry and the professionals who lead the business of meetings through research, professional certification, and education.

8. Global Business Travel Association (GBTA)

The GBTA is the world’s largest professional association representing the business travel industry. Its membership includes more than 9,000 business travel professionals, from every continent. Members include both global business travel and meeting planner as well as suppliers across the global travel industry marketplace.

9. International Association of Expositions and Events (IAEE)

IAEE is a leading association for the global exhibition industry. It represents over 10,000 individuals in 52 countries who conduct and support exhibitions, with training, advocacy, and certification. More than half of members are directly involved in the planning, management, and production of exhibitions and buyer-seller events; the remainder provide products and services to the industry.

10. Meetings Industry Association (MIA)

MIA is the principal association supporting the business meetings and events industry in the UK, and the keeper of AIM, the UK’s only recognised quality standard for the meetings industry. This organizaton supports its members with research, training, certification, awards, and networking opportunities. Members are primarily venues and other suppliers to corporate and agency event planners in the UK.

11. National Association For Catering And Events (NACE)

NACE is a non-profit national organization for caterers, event planners and event professionals that provides education, certification, networking, awards, and resources for members in all segments of the hospitality industry. It has more than 4,000 members in 40+ chapters across North America.

12. International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO)

IAPCO seeks to raise the standards of service among its members and other sectors of the meetings industry though continuing education, networking, and accreditation. Entry criteria are rigorous: an IAPCO professional congress organizer (PCO) must several requirements including proof of organization of 10 international meetings, of which at least five must be of over 400 participants.

13. International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM)

Representing public assembly venues from around the globe, IAVM's active members include managers and senior executives from auditorium, arenas, convention centers, exhibit halls, stadiums, performing arts centers, university complexes, and amphitheaters. The 500+ Allied companies among its members provide products and services used by managers.

14. International Association of Conference Centers (IACC)

IACC promotes the best meeting venues, which deliver exceptional meeting experiences. The organization is dedicated to helping meeting planners find unique and exceptional spaces. IACC venues rank in the top 1% of small and medium-sized meeting venues in the world for creating unique events, meetings and conferences.

15. Corporate Event Marketing Association (CEMA)

CEMA is focused on advancing strategic event marketing and marketing communications for senior-level event marketers and industry professionals in corporate environments. It's committed to providing education, networking, and peer-to-peer knowledge sharing in a non-sales, relationship-building environment for agency partners and event marketers.

16. Association of Collegiate Conference & Events Directors-International (ACCED-I)

ACCED-I has more than 1,400 campus professional members who design, market, coordinate and plan conferences and special events on the campuses of colleges and universities around the globe. Membership is also open to companies that offer services for those in the field of conferences and event management. The organization provides education, certification, networking, and career resources.

17. Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI)

ADMEI is the premier resource for education, standards and practices within the destination management company (DMC) industry. It provides certification of destination management professionals and the accreditation of destination management companies. The organization establishes DMC standards and best practices, and promotes the value of DMCs to the meetings industry.

18. Association of Irish Professional Conference Organisers (AIPCO)

AIPCO is a non-profit professional association for conference organizers in Ireland. It is committed to raising standards of service among its members and other sectors of the meetings industry through continuing education and interaction with other professionals. Membership is open to professional congress organizing companies operating in Ireland as well as corporate partners.

19. International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA)

IFEA is a non-profit organization that provides festival and event professionals worldwide with guidance, information, resources, contacts, programming, benefits, and support. It offers education, networking, certification, online resources, and awards for excellence for creative promotions, destinations, and achievement.

20. Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP)

SGMP seeks to enhance and promote the expertise of government meeting professionals through education, CGMP certification, resources, and networking, as well as awards for exceptional planners, suppliers, and partners. The organization serves the unique needs of government meeting planner, whose work is impacted by the rules and regulations of the federal government, through 21 chapters nationwide.

21. Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA)

ESPA is the only association specifically representing event service professionals across North America. It offers education and networking opportunities to its members which include convention service coordinators and directors, event service coordinators and manager, housing managers, operations managers, and catering managers at CVBs, convention centers, hotels, and resorts.

22. Association of Meeting Professionals (AMPs)

AMPs is a nonprofit association focused on the educational and professional needs of those in the meeting management industry. It delivers educational and networking programs to its 250 planner and service provider members from across the U.S. AMPs aims to maintain a 50/50 planner-to-supplier ratio so all members can find great value in their participation.

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