The Event and Exhibition industry in North America is represented by an alphabet soup of organizations. Each focuses on a slice of the industry like show organizers, exhibit builders, or venue managers. There’s no one umbrella group. Sadly, with the exception of HCEA (which is strictly healthcare), there are no associations that represent exhibitors and trade show managers as their primary audience.
The list below summarizes the members and mission for those associations. It does not include international organizations like:
The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI)
International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (IAFE)
International Federation of Exhibition and Event Services (IFES)
From the EDPA Website: The EDPA is THE network for leaders in the customer experience industry. Its members combine marketing, design and production leadership to help organizations create effective face-to face customer experiences & environments for tradeshows, events, corporate environments, museums, retailers, education and entertainment.
The EDPA is THE network for leaders in the customer experience industry. Its members combine marketing, design and production leadership to help organizations create effective face-to face customer experiences & environments for tradeshows, events, corporate environments, museums, retailers, education and entertainment.
Who are Their Members: Primarily exhibit builders, suppliers, and distributors of trade show products and services.
From the EACA Website: The Exhibitor Appointed Contractor Association represents and supports the interests of EACs and all other organizations that provide exhibit services.
The mission of the EACA is to create tangible value for its members, and the entire trade show industry, by leveraging the combined strengths of the EAC community. We do this by:
Raising the profile of member companies to prospective clients by providing easy access to member services and locations on our web site
Using the member’s collective buying power to obtain advantaged pricing on significant cost centers like supplies and equipment, payroll services, and workers comp, health and liability insurance.
Developing operational tools like the EACA mobile app which allows members to access project critical data and information on a real time basis.
Creating initiatives to assist members to identify and recruit new talent through our collaboration with Skills USA.
And, conducting routine surveys of the membership, and the industry, to provide EACA members with data to inform strategic planning.
Who are Their Members: Primarily non-General Show Contractor labor providers that exhibitors select to install and dismantle their trade show exhibit on the show floor. Membership also includes some General Show Contractors, freight companies, union representatives, and exhibit houses with I&E divisions.
From the SISO Website: SISO members include companies, corporations and other for-profit entities that own, produce or provide full-service management of “face to face” trade shows, consumer shows, expositions, conferences and /or similar events as a substantial part of their business. SISO membership is a combination of large corporations and small entrepreneurial enterprises that do business primarily in North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, Africa, India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. SISO’s more than 195 members produce over 3,500 events, creating an overall $122B impact on the global economy.
The Society of Independent Show Organizers was formed and has been dedicated to meeting the needs of the for-profit show organizer through networking, the exchange of ideas and experiences, and the ability to learn from each other in a non-competitive and candid environment.
Who are Their Members: For-profit trade show and event organizers (like Reed and Informa).
From the ESCA Website: ESCA is dedicated to the advancement of the exhibition, meeting, and special events industries. Through the education, information exchange and level of professionalism shared by members and their customers, ESCA promotes cooperation among all areas of the exhibition industry.
Since 1970 ESCA has provided a unified voice for service contractors and their partners in the exhibition industry. ESCA now has more than 175 member companies throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom and maintains alliances with IAEE, IAVM, SISO, EDPA, and CEIR to promote the exhibition industry.
Who are Their Members: Primarily General Service Contractors such as Freeman, GES, George Fern, and other regional GSCs along with suppliers that provide rental furniture, carpeting, and pipe and drape.
From the IAEE Website: The International Association of Exhibitions and Events is the leading association for the global exhibition industry. Today IAEE represents over 12,000 individuals in over 50 countries who conduct and support exhibitions around the world.
Over 50 percent of IAEE’s members are directly involved in the planning, management, and production of exhibitions and buyer-seller events. The remainder of our membership consists of those who provide products and services to the industry. IAEE values and promotes diversity of membership, in terms of company size, products, and geographical area.
Who are Their Members: Similar to SISO, except the IAEE members are primarily non-profit associations, show organizers, and convention and visitor bureaus (CVB).
From the IAVM Website: 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.
Member venues represent huge expenditures of public and private funds. They attract millions of patrons to an astonishing variety of events from football to basketball, baseball to hockey, from rock concerts to conventions, conferences to ballets…the list is almost endless.
IAVM counts more than 500 Allied companies among its members. These companies provide products and services used by managers. Through their IAVM membership, Allied members are able to present their products to this vast market.
Who are Their Members: Managers of publicly-owned convention, event, performing arts, sporting, and business facilities.
From the NACS Website: The National Association of Consumer Shows (NACS) was founded in 1988 for the advancement of the consumer (public) show industry and to further the growth and professionalism of those involved in the production of consumer shows. The Association focuses solely on the issues of the public show industry through advocacy, education, and networking.
NACS is a friendly, accessible community in which consumer show producers at every level can learn, build relationships, and grow professionally. NACS members annually produce and host shows which use millions of square feet of public and private exhibit space throughout the United States and Canada. These shows bring significant value to the host facilities, communities, exhibitors, and attendees.
Who are Their Members: Generally, smaller for-profit show organizers that produce regional consumer events like auto, holiday, craft, garden, bridal, fishing, and boat shows.
From the CEMA Website: CEMA is a thriving community of corporate event marketers. We serve all senior-level event marketers in a corporate environment. The diversity of our corporate membership continues to expand, and our recent acceptance as members of the Events Industry Council (EIC) have enabled us to expand our reach even further.
Our differentiator is our non-selling, peer-to-peer environment. Conversations among participants at our events focus on best practice sharing and knowledge sharing. Relationships are first and foremost. Professionals do business with other professionals they trust. CEMA facilitates those connections and lifelong industry friendships. CEMA members engage in person through educational and networking opportunities offered each month around the country.
Who are Their Members: Primarily corporate event organizers but also CVB’s and for-profit event companies and general show contractors.
From the EIC Website: The Events Industry Council’s 30+ member organizations represent over 103,500 individuals and 19,500 firms and properties involved in the events industry globally. Our four signature programs—Sustainability, APEX, Knowledge, Leadership—represent the key initiatives, assets, services and products for the Events Industry Council. The Council works to advance the events industry and the professionals who lead the business of meetings.
Who are Their Members: Over 30 event-related organizations associated with meetings, live events, catering, convention management, travel, and exhibitions. See the complete list: https://www.eventscouncil.org/About-Us/Our-Members
From the HCEA Website: The Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA) is a trade association representing organizations united by a common desire to increase the effectiveness and quality of healthcare conventions and exhibitions as an educational and marketing medium.
Since 1930, we have 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. During our long history, HCEA has developed into a dynamic organization that is the only association solely dedicated to improving the effectiveness of all conventions, meetings, and exhibitions for the healthcare industry.
Who are their Members: Medical/pharmaceutical companies, CVB’s, exhibit houses, General Show Contractors, and healthcare-related associations.
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