By Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting
Wedding education. Ten years ago, I would have contended that the opportunities were limited. In fact, I remember my employers investing in general hospitality sales training for me since we couldn’t find opportunities that truly fit, despite out best efforts.
But these days, we’re swimming in opportunities- from national conferences to intimate workshops. With that in mind, the question may be asked- what’s the best fit for me? Since every wedding pro has their own path, they really need to decide what would be the best fit for themselves. Luckily, I have the pleasure of attending a wealth of great events and am happy to get you started with what’s on my radar for 2017 and beyond:
This is a great spot for those looking for up-to- date information on a broad range of topics for a reasonable price. I’m thrilled that they are now hosting it in two cities (Los Angeles and Washington DC), making it even more accessible. Expect a mix of keynotes, breakout sessions, panels and, my favorite, the latest trend and tech news from Sonny Ganguly. There will be lots of content from many of the WeddingWire education experts you see regularly on their EDU blog as well as fresh faces.
This is another national conference that offers a wealth of education for a great value (especially if you get in on any of their early bird ticket deals). What’s nice about this conference is that their team continues to allow the education to evolve. You’re going to have breakout options in your own specific industries, robust Q&As and keynotes. You’ll see top tier national speakers mixed in with some really engaging wedding veterans who are also in the trenches with you.
If you are an active member (or a wannabe active member of NACE!) then this is a must- especially if catering based education is a priority. It’s a heavy hitter with a more intimate feel. The breakouts are plentiful and carefully selected by a team of event pros throughout the industry. NACE Experience is ideal for those who work within the wedding, corporate and social realms- and expect ample time to network with members across all chapters. I’m especially excited to see it hosted this year in Houston, home to one of the largest (and most fun!) chapters in the US.
I went for the first time this past June and can see why this is on so many people’s conference bucket list. While a larger investment than some of the other conferences, you really get to dive into the world of luxury weddings. I’ve always contended that in order to sell to this market, you need to understand it from the inside/out and this conference fast tracks you there. Expect high profile speakers, networking with a mix of highly respected veterans AND up-and- comers, not to mention plenty of inspiration that you can apply to your own services. And yes- their famous “swag” exceeds expectations.
This was my first national conference and always holds a special spot in my education-loving heart. What I love about TSE- education is a mix of corporate, social and weddings (with an actual wedding track). This has more breakout options than any other conference I attend in the year and many of the evening events are a la carte so I can customize my experience. Plus, I love that it takes place early in the year-talk about a great way to a light a fire under you for the year ahead!
I’m attending for the first time this year and am thrilled there is an event that speaks to the challenges of master level wedding pros. Let’s face it- there are a whole wealth of new scenarios that come with company growth and I love that Michelle Loretta (founder of the conference) is filling this much needed gap in industry education. You’ll see some familiar faces in the speaker lineup BUT what’s great is that Michelle hand selects fantastic speakers outside of the industry who can offer new perspective. If traveling just isn’t in the cards right now, remember that there are some great wedding/event industry related podcasts and webinars readily available to you. Additionally, don’t discount local opportunities either- there are some great regional chapters of associations (NACE, WIPA, ILEA, etc) that regularly host speakers, so make sure you’re looking in your own backyard.
Meghan Ely is the owner of OFD Consulting, an award-winning wedding PR and marketing firm. She is the national Vice President for WIPA and the 2017 NACE Experience education chair.