Event planning organizations are a phenomenal resource for education, networking, certifications…the works. Like our events app Blackthorn Events we’re all about saving you time. Don’t know which one is for you? Here’s a handy list of the event planner associations by industry and why you should join.


Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA)

Who Their Members Are: HCEA is a nationwide trade association that aims to increase the effectiveness and quality of healthcare conventions and exhibitions as an educational and marketing medium. Since 1930 they’ve brought together industry stakeholders (including healthcare exhibitors, healthcare exhibition and meeting organizers, and industry suppliers) who are instrumental in promoting healthcare convention marketing and exhibitions as vital components of the healthcare marketing mix

What You Get: Cutting edge resources and tools, conferences and education, leadership opportunities, and a Career Center to view job postings or post your resume for potential employers

How Much Does It Cost? There are three tiers available: Association, Corporation, and Industry Partner. See which one works best for you

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – Medical & Healthcare Professionals Community

Who Their Members Are: MPI members who plan pharmaceutical, biotech, medical, life sciences, or healthcare meetings. Their reach is extensive – MPI has over 70 chapters and clubs in 75 countries worldwide

What You Get: MPI benefits as well as the support of nearly 1,000 medical and healthcare meeting professionals around the globe

How Much Does It Cost? Depends on what you’re looking for. They have three tiers available – Planner, Supplier, and Student & Faculty – with easily available descriptions so you can choose which one is best for you

Higher Education

Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors – International (ACCED-I)

Who Their Members Are: Over 1,100 campus professionals from 400+ institutions who design, market, coordinate, and plan conferences and events on the campuses of colleges and universities. ACCED-I is segmented into five regions and each one has their own webpage with information about region-specific events and networking opportunities. Find yours

What You Get: Education, member-exclusive resources, professional development, certification opportunities, and of course, a vast member network for professionals just like you. Learn more

How Much Does It Cost? ACCED-I has multiple types of memberships, ranging from individual and institutional, to student, corporate, and more. Check out their website for a full list of membership categories

Financial Services/Insurance

Financial and Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP)

Who Their Members Are: FICP targets the needs of financial services and insurance meeting professionals from across North America (U.S. and Canada)

What You Get: First-rate conferences, symposiums, virtual networking, and educational opportunities to increase your success and strategic value. Want more specifics? FICP tells you exactly why you should join

How Much Does It Cost? Review your options and confirm eligibility for either individual, corporate incentive, or honorary membership status

Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Financial & Insurance Planners Community

Who Their Members Are: MPI members who plan meetings for the financial and insurance sector, which is estimated to support more than 500,000 meetings industry-related jobs in the U.S. alone. Their reach is extensive- MPI has over 70 chapters and clubs in 75 countries worldwide

What You Get: MPI benefits as well as the support of nearly 600 fellow financial and insurance event planners

How Much Does It Cost? Depends on what youre looking for. They have three tiers available – Planner, Supplier, and Student & Faculty with easily available descriptions so you can choose which one is best for you


Meeting Professionals International (MPI) – Association Professionals

Who Their Members Are: MPI members who plan meetings for association/non-profit organizations. Their reach is extensive – MPI has over 70 chapters and clubs in 75 countries worldwide

What You Get: MPI benefits as well as the support of 2,000 fellow Association Professionals

Where Are They? MPI has over 70 chapters and clubs in 75 countries worldwide

How Much Does It Cost? Depends on what you’re looking for. They have three tiers available – Planner, Supplier, and Student & Faculty – with easily available descriptions so you can choose which one is best for you

Public Sector

Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP)

Who Their Members Are: SGMP is the only national organization in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to individuals who plan and execute government meetings, with nearly 2,000 members in 19 chapters nationwide

What You Get: Education opportunities such as live webinars and monthly opportunities to hear various topics and speakers (don’t forget to earn your CGMP designation!). Resources also include content meant just for you with a complimentary subscription to Government Connections magazine, their weekly newsletter (SGMP Link), Online Buyers Guide, and much more. Not to mention the networking opportunities, especially at their annual national conference – the NEC (National Education Conference). Take a look at their full list of benefits and make sure you check back for information about next year’s conference

How Much Does It Cost? SGMP has a wide variety of options, including Planner, Supplier, Educator/Students, and Retiree applicants. If we’ve piqued your curiosity, you can read more information on their Membership page

Global Meetings and Tradeshow/Exhibitions Industries

The International Association of Professional Congress Organisers (IAPCO)

Who Their Members Are: IAPCOs worldwide membership consists of Professional Congress Organisers (PCOs) and conference organising/meeting planning companies, ranging in size from one-office operations to multinational entities, that continue to demonstrate high levels of quality service proven through the IAPCO Quality Standards process

What You Get: International brand recognition, excellent opportunities to network, business promotion, access to IAPCOs online learning platform (webEDGE), preferential insurance rates for your events, and more. Make sure to read their full list of membership benefits

How Much Does It Cost? In order to qualify for membership, an applicant must provide proof that they have organised ten international or national events (with additional criteria that needs to be evaluated prior to acceptance). Review their instructions and IAPCO Membership Pack on their How to Apply page

International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA)

Who Their Members Are: ICCA is the global association leader for the international meetings industry and specializes in the international association meetings sector. They’re comprised of both suppliers and associations, with an impressive 1,100 member companies and organizations in almost 100 countries and territories worldwide. As of 2020, ICCA encompasses all major stakeholders in the world of association meetings by opening its doors to association with the launch of the “ICCA Association Community”, offering education, connections, tools, and resources for associations to organise more effective meetings

What You Get: Suppliers will benefit from global networking, association meetings expertise, and tailored education with the opportunity to promote your organization and win association meetings business. On the association side, you can receive tailored bids from quality suppliers, contact fellow associations and get expertise on association meetings, invitations to industry events, and advice on RFPs

How Much Does It Cost? Apply for membership and ICCA will reach out with more information

International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE)

Who Their Members Are: IAEE represents over 12,000 individuals in over 50 countries who conduct and support exhibitions around the world. Over 50% of their members are directly involved in the planning, management, and production of exhibitions and buyer-seller events

What You Get: Professional development, industry news and publications, industry and professional resources, service partner discounts, advocacy before government and media, leadership development, and local chapter membership

How Much Does It Cost? IAEE’s Membership page outlines their three membership options (Industry, Event Facility, and Outside North America) with pricing

Festivals and Events

International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA)

Who Their Members Are: All those who produce and support quality celebrations for the benefit of their respective communities. Members share IFEA’s core values of excellence and quality, the sharing of experience, knowledge, creativity, and best practices, and the importance of community building both locally and globally. They’re comprised of the following affiliates: IFEA Africa, IFEA Asia, IFEA Austrailia and New Zealand, IFEA Europe, IFEA Latin America, IFEA Middle East (MENASA), IFEA North America, and a special community of IFEA Students

What You Get: IFEA’s primary focus is identifying and providing access to the professional resources and networks that will inspire and enable those in the industry to realize their dreams, build community, and sustain success through celebration. From resources and networking to communication, outreach, awards and industry recognition…see a full list of their extensive benefits on their Member Benefits page

How Much Does It Cost? Their Membership page lays out the specifics, including an online membership application and online student membership application


Meeting Professionals International (MPI)

Who Their Members Are: A global community of 60,000 meeting and event professionals. Over $26 billion in buying decisions are controlled by MPI members. Their reach is expansive, with nearly 70 chapters and clubs in more than 70 countries worldwide

What You Get: MPI is a heavy-hitter in the meeting planning industry, and it’s easy to see why. With innovative and relevant education, networking opportunities, and business exchanges, they act as a prominent voice for the promotion and growth of the industry. Be sure to check out their full list of membership benefits (on-demand education, webinars, and certificate courses…oh my!)

How Much Does It Cost? MPI offers three tiers: Planner, Supplier, and Student & Faculty. Review each category to see which best describes you

American Planning Association (APA)

Who Their Members Are: A diverse network of planners, commissioners, public officials, educators, students, and engaged citizens who are applying the benefits of planning to cities, towns, and neighborhoods nationwide

What You Get: The ability to expand your network with more than 40,000 people from every state and 90 countries, plug in with one of 47 local chapters, connect with specialists in APAs 22 divisions, and access education and community resources. APA lays out all the details here

How Much Does It Cost? Membership categories include Planner, Student, Commissioner, Academic, and Allied Professionals & Citizens, as well as a category for those interested in joining from outside the U.S.

National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP)

Who Their Members Are: NCBMP is a non-profit organization dedicated primarily to the training needs of African American meeting planners. Members include meeting planners from numerous business, civil rights, church, and fraternal organizations across the U.S. Associate membership is available to individuals who represent hotels, convention bureaus, city government officers, airlines, and other suppliers who offer services to the meeting and convention community

What You Get: Assistance in the advancement of meeting professionals through shared educational information (including conferences and support for the Certified Meeting Profession [CMP] exam), managerial opportunities, networking to facilitate job referrals, lists of consultants and vendors, and the ability to help educate youth and assist them on their path to careers in the hospitality industry. Be sure to read more specifics on the Member Benefits page

How Much Does It Cost? There are five different memberships available: Meeting Planner/Association Executive, Supplier, Academic Professional, Third-Party Planner, and Student. View descriptions and pricing for each on their Join Now page


National Association for Catering & Events (NACE)

Who Their Members Are: NACE is the go-to resource and community for catering and event professionals nationwide. Their member base is 3,500 strong and growing with 40 chapters across the country

What You Get: Network with other members at local events, access the NACE membership directory, develop your leadership skills through volunteer opportunities, grow your career through professional development (including their annual NACE Experience Conference) and access a wealth of information through videos, articles, presentations, and more. Their members also enjoy money-saving programs with special pricing discounts. Their Member Benefits page has all the details

How Much Does It Cost? Create a quick account on their Join page for the latest information

Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)

Who Their Members Are: PCMA has a pretty impressive roster of convention management professionals, including 7,000 members almost evenly split between planners (52%) and suppliers (48%). About 68% of their members have at least a decade of industry experience with 78% self-identifying as key decision-makers in their roles. PCMA’s members and audience span across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia with 17 chapters and activities in 30 countries

What You Get: Their Business Events Compass report, members-only forums and a directory, Convene Magazine subscription, savings on events and education, access to all recorded sessions and speakers, and PCMA’s Business Events Bootcamp online learning. See why they say, Members Get More

How Much Does It Cost? Tiers and pricing can be found on their Membership page. Whether you’re an event professional, supplier, or faculty member…they’ve got you covered. Oh, and did we mention that students are free? Who doesn’t love free?

Incentive Industry

Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE)

Who Their Members Are: SITE is a professional association of 2,500 incentive travel industry members working in corporations, agencies, airlines, and cruise companies in 90 countries globally. Their professionals expand across the entire destination supply chain

What You Get: They are the only business events association dedicated exclusively to the global incentive travel industry. SITE brings value to their members at both the global and local chapter level with an extensive membership directory, online resources (including research, trends, and data), education, certification, and advocacy

How Much Does It Cost? Memberships are segmented into Voting and Non-Voting (Affiliate) member types. Voting memberships include Professional, Developing Professional, and Corporate Buyer options with group memberships also available. Non-Voting memberships are reserved for students, faculty, and retirees. See how to join their community (including pricing information)

Just One More Thing…

We’d never forgive ourselves if we failed to mention the Events Industry Council (EIC), which is comprised of over 30 member organizations that represent 105,000 professionals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry globally. Many (many) of the amazing organizations we’ve listed above are part of the EIC. They’re also responsible for the gold-standard of meeting professional certifications – the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program. See how you can get involved with the Events Industry Council at https://eventscouncil.org/ and check out what you need to get your ever-important CMP certification.

Did we miss an organization for event planners? Let us know so we can continue providing you with the latest information!