How to Create Standout Association Annual Meetings and Trade Shows

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How to Create Standout Association Annual Meetings and Trade Shows


Over the past 30 years, Destination Colorado Meetings has brought suppliers across the state together to make the business of planning meetings and events easy in Colorado. The association also provides a united way to promote Colorado as an outstanding destination for groups and organizes trade shows, educational meetings, customer appreciation events, and fun activities.


One of the highlights of the year is always the Colorado Meetings Showcase held each December in tandem with the organization’s annual meeting. It’s an ideal combination for people traveling in from around the state to attend both, celebrate the industry and holiday season, and share information. Let’s look at how to create standout association annual meetings and trade shows.

Two women standing behind a display booth at an event, showcasing various Colorado-themed products, with a large "Destination Colorado Meetings" sign in the background. Ideal for annual meetings, this vibrant display highlights the unique offerings of the region.
Embassy Suites Loveland

Dynamic Trade Shows

One of the things I like about the Colorado Meetings Showcase is that it’s intimate enough to make the rounds through 70 booths, casually enjoy the food and drink, and take the time to talk to industry friends and the 144 exhibiting members in the three-hour period. It doesn’t feel rushed. This year’s trade show was held for the second year in a row at Infinity Park Event Center in Glendale on Dec. 14 from 4-7 p.m.


Staged in the venue’s 8,600-square-foot International Ballroom, there is always a celebratory vibe with booths decked out in holiday décor and featuring appealing swag and treats. Destination Colorado Meetings also utilizes the 360 degrees of crystal-clear screens that serves as a customizable digital blank canvas for imagery, serving as a dynamic backdrop for exhibitors representing hotels, resorts, venues, and meeting services from across Colorado.

Two men stand beside a display setup featuring a wooden frame, white drapes, a chandelier, and a screen displaying the logo for the annual meetings. A tall table with lighting equipment completes the scene in the dimly lit setting.
Elite Entertainment

There needs to be more than wandering around booths to make a trade show appealing to the 300 meeting and event planners and suppliers who attended in 2023. A crepes activation station, beautifully displayed charcuterie and a hot cocoa bar by Serendipity Catering were a bit hit along with the cranberry Aperol spritz and Aspen Ranch Water holiday cocktails sponsored by Hermes Worldwide and Aspen Chamber Resort Association. Jared Judge of Extreme Strings entertained the group with an electric violin performance.


Looking for a way to keep attendees around until the end of the trade show? Not only is it a good move to have food, beverages and entertainment, it helps to have a giveaway drawing at the end. Colorado Meetings Showcase exhibitors provide overnight stays, gift certificates, cool swag and more. If attendees leave early, they miss the opportunity to win big and anyone who has attended previously knows this fact.

A person wearing a green sweater and jeans is playing a violin on stage with red and black checkerboard flooring, vertical white light bars in the background, creating an ambiance reminiscent of annual meetings.
Jared Judge of Extreme Strings

Interesting Annual Meetings

Destination Colorado Meetings’ annual meeting was held prior to the showcase in one of the meeting rooms at Infinity Park Event Center. Make sure to book a room that fits the size of the annual meeting and has the necessary audiovisual. It’s no fun to sit in an oversized or overcrowded room and not be able to hear or see in either situation.


Combining the two events makes it convenient for Destination Colorado Meetings members and helps boost attendance at the annual meeting. Not only is it a good time to review the year’s progress and provide a glimpse at 2024 initiatives, but it’s also a prime time to recognize standout members and retiring board members.

Four people standing together, one holding an award. Behind them, a screen displays awards for Company of the Year, Individual of the Year, and Ambassadors of the Year at the annual meetings.
Meg Tewkesbury, Dean Savoca, Kelly Layton and Marie Huston

Peak Performer awards were presented to The Broadmoor as Company of the Year and Dean Savoca of Savoca Performance Groups as Individual of the Year. Tracy Blair of Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel received the Ambassador of the Year award.


Several members who are wrapping up service on the Destination Colorado Meetings board of directors also were recognized: Ellen Collins (1998), Thad Carlson (2013), Sharon Schoeffield (2019), Jason Lusk (2021) and Dean Savoca (2021).

A woman in a hat speaks at a podium with a laptop. Behind her, a screen displays "Thank you, Ellen" and a photo of a smiling woman with the text "Destination Colorado Leadership Since 2001." This heartfelt tribute unfolded during one of their annual meetings.
President Meg Tewkesbury thanks Ellen Collins for board service

The executive committee and incoming board members also were announced. The executive committee for 2024 includes Meg Tewkesbury, president; Brady Johnson, immediate past president; Lindsey Rohrbaugh, vice president; Lauren Lacey, secretary; and Dave Feller, treasurer. Incoming board members are Katie Buttermore, Maria Garces, Sonny Kierstiens, Joyce Reilly, Jorge Sanchez, Rebecca Sosa and Chrissie Widhalm.


I hope you find these ideas for how to create standout association annual meetings and trade shows helpful. It’s important to keep it fresh each year so avoid rinsing and repeating!


Photos: Christie’s Photographic Solutions


Colorado native Beth Buehler has been editor of Colorado Meetings + Events magazine for 19 years, helped launch Mountain Meetings magazine, and was on the team that introduced Southwest Meetings + Events in 2023. She has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.