CMP - What is it? Why Should You have it?:

By Lynn McCullough Director of Meetings & Association Management, CMA Association Management | May 06, 2010

Achieving a higher level of education and industry awareness opens many doors for a career. The meeting industry is no exception to this rule. To that end, the CMP designation says a lot to your clients. It reflects a commitment to excellence and demonstrates the CMP designate as someone who is a well-informed partner and resource in the meeting planning process.

The CMP, or Certified Meeting Professional, program symbolizes excellence and academic experience and is the most widely recognized designation in the meetings industry. More and more, members of the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM) are obtaining the CMP designation. It validates the important role of continuing education, and reflects positively on the meeting planning discipline while exposing the profile of those practicing it. Currently, over 25 percent of ACOM members hold the CMP designation, and the number is rising rapidly. ACOM is dedicated to advancing the practice of convention services management in the meetings industry, and to preparing CSM professionals for the enormous task of gaining their CMP with the help of educational activities and peer mentoring. Those with a deep dedication to the industry's business practices and tenets are achieving this designation and reaping the benefits throughout the remainder of their career paths.

ACOM members shared with us some of their positive experiences in furthering their education and their decisions to obtain the CMP designation. Denise Suttle, CMP, Assistant Director of Convention Services for Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau, and ACOM Board Member, had a positive mentoring experience with working one-on-one with a fellow meeting planner who was a strong advocate of the CMP program. Her mentor was a firm believer in the value of making a partner of CSMs at all hotels, CVBs and convention centers that she worked with. Suttle said, "When she worked with me on her Albuquerque annual convention, her utterly professional approach to every aspect of meeting planning, her onsite skills with managing staff, thoroughly documented history and precise event planning documents were a revelation to me. She inspired me to learn as much as I could about meeting planning, so that I could be a better resource for the planners I work with in the future."

For more than 15 years, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) has defined new levels of professionalism through its CMP program. The credential was developed out of a necessity to increase the proficiency of meeting professionals and represent the standard of excellence in today's meeting industry. The CMP designation:

In order to qualify for the certification application, meeting professionals must meet a threshold of activity in the industry, which includes experience, scope of responsibility and management, continuing education, professional association memberships and leadership roles. Once your application is approved, candidates must pass an extensive examination which is administered twice a year. ACOM members, for example, receive credits for association education events they attend or participate in. ACOM's Lunch & Learns and Webinars which can be accessed without ever leaving the office, are a good illustration of how to achieve credits.

Dirk Bohns, CMP, Technical Services Manager of the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel went through the CMP process three years ago. "In 2004 the Fairmont Director of Banquets suggested to internal staff that more individuals should attempt the CMP certification. This made its way to my Sales Manager at AVW-TELAV, Maureen Kelly, and she approached me and asked me to attempt the exam based on my past experiences in the area. She saw it as a great way to strengthen AVW-TELAV's relationship with the Fairmont Hotel." Bohns continues to say, "Studying for the CMP examination can be a challenging and stressful process but having a good support team of family and co-workers behind you can make the preparation easier to accomplish. One also has to get accustomed to studying whenever and where ever they can, I used to study on the train in the morning as I commuted to work. Once I received my CMP I started to realize that everything I learned from my fellow CMP professionals, I was beginning to teach to the younger and future CMP professionals of the staff, something that I take great joy in doing."

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