ESPA Annual Conference

ESPA 2021 Annual Conference

January 21-22, 2021
A Virtual Event

Event Service Professionals – Time to Re-connect and Re-engage!

The ESPA Annual Conference will now be virtual on January 21-22 and we hope you’ll join us.  We look forward to gathering our event service professional members together for a dynamic opportunity to re-connect. Read President Jamie Huckleberry’s letter which describes why we are transitioning our January 2021 event to virtual.

In the spirit of our theme, #ServicesStrong, it’s our goal to deliver ESPA benefits to as many members and service professionals as possible. Whether face-to-face or virtual, we are always excited to meet, share best practices, learn and network.

Topics will cover current challenges and solutions unique to Event Service Professionals. This is a great opportunity to earn CMP credits for services-centric education.

Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote
Simon Bailey
SPARK: Act like an Employee and Think like a CEO

Industry Keynote
Larry Perkins, CFE, CPP, CMP
Vice President/Assistant GM, PNC Arena
Reflections: Buck Seventy-Two: A Destiny of Will

Industry Keynote
Jessie States, CMP, CMM
Director, MPI Academy, Meeting Professionals International
WEC Grapevine: It Took a Village – Pandemic Considerations with Local Partners

Industry Keynote
Melinda L. Burdette, CMP, CMM, HMCC
Director, Events, Meeting Professionals International
WEC Grapevine: It Took a Village – Pandemic Considerations with Local Partners

Closing Keynote
Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo
Creating the New Normal
Optimizing your mindset is integral to your success in the present and future

Interested in sponsorship? Email ESPA HQ for details today.

Premier Partners

Conference Partners

Industry Partners

Member Partners

Schedule of Events

All times are posted in ET, Eastern Time Zone.
CMP credit information to be posted shortly.

13:00 - 00:00
Optional Sightseeing Tours

See the Optional Tours sections for all of the details and for sign up links.  

  • 1:00-3:30pm Pittsburgh Historic Market Food Tour
  • 1:30-4:00pm Hometown Heroes Tour
  • 2:00-5:00pm Brews and Pews Tour
Select date to see events.

Registration & Earning Credits

Please note to receive Continuing Education (CE) Credits for attending sessions, you must pre-select all sessions during the registration process. Only sessions listed on the agenda with a CMP Credit noted will be eligible for CMP Credit. You may add/delete sessions prior to the conference. You will only have CE Credits tracked for those sessions you selected. Following the conference, your sessions will be listed in the My ESPA Portal under the “My ESPA” drop down on the “My Continuing Education” page.

Registration Rates

Advanced Rate (valid through January 8) General
Active ESPA Member $299 $350
Member Group Discount (3+ registrants)
Please contact ESPA to register at this rate.
$240 $280
Non-Member $325 $375
Hardship Rate (members on furlough or laid-off)
Please contact ESPA to register at this rate.
$150 $150
Student Rate (must provide proof of student status upon request) $25 $25

 Virtual Platform

The virtual Conference will take place on the PSAV Chime Live platform. We will provide you with a link to the platform in January, as well as tips for the best viewing of the event.

 Hardship Rate Requests

Members who are experiencing a furlough or layoff due to COVID-19 can request the hardship rate of $150. Please send your request to

Cancellation / Substitution Policy

There are no refunds for cancellations once registered, however, If you are unable to attend, you may make a registration substitution. All substitutions requests must be sent in writing to

Payment Policy

Registration will not be final and access to the event will not be provided until payment is received. Please contact ESPA headquarters at with any registration questions.

All attendees are requested to review the ESPA Registration Disclaimers, Consents & Code of Conduct



This brochure describes the value of professional development and education for services managers. Print this out and provide it to your manager – it contains quotes from meeting planners about the value they place on their CSMs, including when making re-booking decisions.

ESPA Recognitions – Submit a Nominee for a Deserved Recognition

Leadership in Services Award – NOMINATIONS DUE DECEMBER 18, 2020

Considering the current climate in our industry, ESPA is launching a new award that recognizes Event Service Professionals who have demonstrated leadership in 2020 and have been proactive and positive in the face of adversity. With the many obstacles that COVID has presented this year, these individuals took the lead to keep the well-being of our industry or of their own community top of mind.

To be nominated for this award, a person would have demonstrated leadership in helping to shape their own organization in response to COVID, initiated community services that impacted your local charities, or demonstrated leadership in our industry either through ESPA or other professional organization initiatives. These individuals have a positive, can-do attitude that impacted others, or our industry, in a meaningful way.

Nominate a service professional you feel is deserving of this award! Recipient(s) will recognized at the 2021 Annual Conference.


Is your manager committed to excellence in Convention Services?

Each year at the Annual Conference, ESPA recognizes an executive for his or her commitment and dedication to the profession of event service and to giving key support and leadership to members of their services team. As a member of ESPA, if you feel your organization has an executive who is a mentor, an ESPA supporter and convention services advocate, if he/she encourages your team’s professional development, submit your nomination!

Please fill out our online Nomination Form  – winners will be selected in the Winter of 2020 and will be invited to attend and receive the award.

Criteria and Guidelines

  • Nominee supports staff participation in ESPA
  • Nominee must be an executive of an organization which has an ESPA member. Executive is defined as a VP or higher at a CVB; a member of the executive committee or GM at a hotel; or a VP, GM or Executive Director at a Convention Center.
  • Nominee personally and consistently supports quality assurance in the organization’s convention services operations.
  • Nominee supports staff development, growth and continuing education.

2020 recipient: Bill Bennett, General Manager, Valor Hospitality


Event Service Professionals, has your planner client shown leadership and partnership with an event in 2020?

This award was designed to recognize the hard-working meeting professional who exhibits personal and professional characteristics that create an environment that focuses on teamwork, as well as shows support for the event services profession.

This is your chance to recognize a planner that represents the best of the best! Event Service Professionals know better than anyone when a planner is prepared, shows professionalism and is a great leader when producing an event or meeting. Why not recognize them for their dedication and hard work?

To submit a planner for consideration, please fill out our online Nomination Form – winners will be selected in the winter of 2020 and will be invited to attend and receive the award.

Criteria and Guidelines

  • You must have worked with meeting planner in an event services capacity , i.e. as a CSM, during the past year
  • Shows superior leadership and management qualities before, during and after the meeting
  • Recognizes the importance and supports the role of the CSM in the meeting planning process


ESPA Members who are CMP designates or are studying for the CMP – Apply to participate in the ESPA virtual annual conference.

The Annual William H. Just CAE, CMP Memorial Award recognizes an ESPA member who has earned or is earning their CMP certification and is in good standing with the association. The award was established in honor of the late William H. Just, CAE, CMP who founded ACOM (now ESPA) in 1988. Just also played a key role in the establishment of the CMP program. Bill Just embodied valuable attributes including being a visionary, incorporating creativity, professionalism and leadership into his endeavors. This award recognizes these qualities in its recipients.

ESPA members can submit an application which includes an essay on how the CMP designation has been beneficial to them, why they decided to receive this certification and details on their industry and community involvement. The winner will receive a complimentary registration to the next ESPA Annual Conference which helps to support their CMP continuing education status.

To submit yourself for consideration, please fill out our online Nomination Form – winners will be selected in the winter of 2020 and will be invited to participate in the virtual annual conference.

Congratulations to 2020 Bill Just Memorial Award Recipient, Heather Walker, CMP, Director of Client Experience, VisitDallas.

Partner corner

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