“I love my Birdies (The Starling)—comfy and professional,” says Amy Muller Sylo, global sales manager, World Meetings & Events. Christine Hilgert, CMP, senior vice president at Meeting Expectations also gives Birdies the thumbs up: “Founded by women, stylish, and fun.”
“The Nautica Idi woven shoe is a miracle and a dream all wrapped into one,” says Carrie Abernathy, CMP, CEM, CSEP, lead meeting planner, industry engagement, Altria. “All of my team members have this shoe. Coming off a massive trade show and several 14-hour days, I can literally say it’s the best shoe I’ve ever worn! Bonus: No breaking-in period, and this is the only flat that hasn’t given me a heel blister!”
Mia McMahon, CMP, director, meetings, events, and travel services at Dine Brands Global, is a convert to the Wren Loafer by Hush Puppies: “I just bought these and wore them on site, and then went home and bought them in every color.”
“For me, it’s Gucci tennis shoes,” says Patty Karsten, vice president, industry relations at BI WORLDWIDE. She calls them a “classic staple” and is thrilled that sneakers are now accepted business attire.
Marty MacKay, DMCP, is also happy to be wearing sneakers on the job. “I love the new trend, especially for trade shows. You see this in Europe all the time now: cute sneakers with dresses or even pants. I am a huge Vionic fan. They got me through a lot of shows and look super cute. It’s a nice change up and certainly has saved my feet!”
Another sneaker choice for long-days on the conference floor comes from Laura Lines, vice president, marketing & business development at LEO Events: “My favorites are the On Cloud 5 All Black sneakers, available in standard and waterproof. They are incredibly light, so they’re great for travel. Plus, they have elastic laces that keep them on securely but slip on/off with no effort.”
Taking casual and comfortable to the next level is Natalie Lowe, CMM, president at Celebrate Niagara & The Sustainable Events Forum. “I wear my black Blundstone boots every single day. The 510 Originals are low key, and the only shoes/boots that I can wear for 30,000 steps in a day and my feet and ankles don’t hurt. As a DMC, I am often doing load-in, load-out, running to busses, and up and down stairs—in all weather. I used to worry they were too casual, but I actually get a ton of compliments on them, and wearing heels isn’t worth the ankle, knee, and back issues when you are walking as much as we do.”
The Point shoe by Rothy’s is the conference shoe choice for Reina Herschdorfer, director of marketing, national meetings & events at Caesars Entertainment, and she isn’t alone. “We love Rothy’s because they are made from recycled plastic bottles, and they’re washable and comfy,” says Christine Hilgert, CMP, senior vice president at Meeting Expectations.
Comfort and an easy-on-the-earth approach is also important to Wendy Wallace, director, marketing at Creative Group, who loves the Allbirds Tree Breezers: “Their shoes are super comfortable, using a lot of recycled materials so they have a strong sustainability message too. A win-win.”
Danica Schroth, portfolio director, conferences, life sciences at Informa Connect, is a fan of almost any shoe from Walking Cradles. “They have tons of low-heel and mid-heel full-coverage options that are great!” (Pictured: Walking Cradles Francine Flat)
“For professional, comfortable ‘walking the trade show floor’ shoes, my go-to is Onex,” says Cindy Brewer, principal at LEO Events, noting that you can find them at most Las Vegas resorts’ gift shops. (Pictured: Onex Rory-N)
Glenna Fulks, chief connecting officer & partner at Kite Meeting Management, is one of the few meeting executives who offered a high-heel favorite. “I have a lot of different brands in my closet, but I lean towards European brands because I have a very narrow foot and find that the lasts that European brands use fit me better.” She has two suggestions for shoes that “are comfortable, stylish, and hold up well”—Frida by INEZ (shown) and The Lustro by M.Gemi.
"I just came back from [a conference] in Chicago and my Anne Klein flats were lifesavers!" says Heather Drew, director, education strategy at PeerView Institute for Medical Education. "Anne Klein has lots of professional looking flats at really reasonable prices, and I highly recommend them if you're going to be on your feet all day!"
A self-proclaimed “shoe fanatic,” Joe-Ann Howell, producer, meetings & events at Dine Brands Global, says she’s “always on a quest for the perfect comfy shoes to wear at conferences.” Her two current favorites are anything from Sketchers D’Lites line and the Tina Loafer (shown) from BCBGeneration.
When the Show Is Over…
“I always pack a pair of Oofos flip flops in my suitcase when traveling,” says Cindy Brewer, principal at LEO Events. “They make your feet feel awesome and are great for walking around the hotel room and recovery.”