Top Annual Meeting and Event Planning Conferences in Colorado

By Beth Buehler

Colorado’s meeting and event industry has a reputation. A good one! This reputation is tied to partnering for success versus competing for territory. As a result, there are just a few larger annual conferences that bring the industry together, instead of a bunch of smaller conferences all year long.

Destination Colorado, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the site selection and planning experience in Colorado convenient and straightforward, hosts the Front Range Trade Show in early December. It’s a way for meeting and event planners to connect with representatives of destinations, resorts, hotels and a variety of suppliers from all over the state in one convenient place. It’s all about networking in a fun atmosphere and distinct venue like The Hangar at Stanley in Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace, the location for 2017 and 2018.

Destination Colorado’s 2018 Front Range Trade Show at The Hangar at Stanley. Photo by Josh Gold Photography.

Plus, representatives from Destination Colorado’s 130 members (hotels, venues, destination marketing organizations and suppliers) gather for an annual meeting and awards held immediately before the trade show begins. By working together, Destination Colorado provides resources, information and solutions for meeting and event planners.

Meg Palumbo accepting the Individual of the Year award at Destination Colorado’s annual meeting. Photo by Josh Gold Photography.

The largest industry gathering in Colorado is the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado Educational Conference & Trade Show in mid-March at Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, attracting around 1,200 attendees and exhibitors. It’s part of Colorado Meetings Week that started this year as usual on Monday evening, March 11 with the Colorado Meetings + Events Best of 2019 readers’ choice awards celebration and Hall of Fame induction. March 12 and 13 were dedicated to the conference with a planners-only session, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, interactive trade show and an opening reception. MIC of Colorado is made up of 13 industry organizations with chapters based in Colorado … think Meetings Professionals International (MPI), Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), International Live Events Association (ILEA), National Association of Catering and Events (NACE) and more.

Colorado Meetings + Events Best of 2019 at Mile High Station and Ironworks.

Rebecca Sosa of Hotel Boulderado, Kathy Reak of Visit Colorado Springs and Destination Colorado Board President, and Ellen Collins of Vail Resorts Meetings & Events and Destination Colorado Vice President at the Destination Colorado booth at MIC 2019.

Many states have inquired about how Colorado has established organizations and gatherings such as these when it involves bringing together competitors in many cases. The philosophy is that together everyone is better, which translates into bringing more meetings and events to Colorado. It also is handy to attend a few larger gatherings than several smaller ones each year, especially for those who travel in from around the state.

However, a few of MIC’s 13 organizations still have annual conferences where learning, networking and experiencing the destination are at the forefront. The Colorado Society of Association Executives is meeting June 5 – 7, 2019 in Pueblo at the Pueblo Convention Center, and the Society of Government Meeting Planners Rocky Mountain Chapter 28th Annual Fall Education Conference is on Oct. 2-4, 2019 at Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center in Breckenridge.

CSAE annual conference outdoor reception. Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Colorado also has the good fortune to attract national and international industry conferences on a regular basis. For example, ILEA held its ILEA LIVE conference in Denver in August 2018, bringing in  event planners and suppliers from around the globe and utilizing a large downtown hotel, History Colorado Center and Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. It was a great chance to showcase Denver and for members of ILEA Denver to have the international conference in their backyard.

ILEA Live 2018 in Denver. Photo by From the Hip Photo.

Don’t miss these opportunities to attend meeting and event planning conferences and gatherings in Colorado. You will learn and meet all sorts of pros in the field!

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado in all seasons.