Magazine Online    The Authority On African-American Conventions, Incentives, & Leisure Travel
Issue: September/October

As we come to the end of 2018 and I begin my business plan for 2019, I am forced to reflect on the places Forums Meetings & Events excelled and our opportunities for improvement in the coming year.  When I consider the list, the single most powerful move we have made this year, is to require each and every one of our Experience Managers (Program Mangers, Event Planners, Project Leads or whatever name your company uses), to obtain at least one event industry certification.

It is an age-old debate on whether industry certifications mean anything.  Some have designated them "for sale."  We know that it makes clear sense for some industries to have certifications such as Dr's and lawyers.  We know that in many industries lobbyists have introduced certifications as a means to eliminate competition.  Feelings are mixed when it comes to certifying the event industry.    It is my personal opinion that event planning has a LOW BARRIER TO ENTRY, thus certifications are needed to "fill in the gaps" and validate knowledge. Let me explain.

Have you ever met someone who has planned their grandmother's birthday, a family baby shower or graduation party and self-certify as an event manager?  Stir in a business card, and perhaps a do it yourself website and VOILA - for little money and minimal effort you have an event planning company.  I believe these self-proclaimed event managers make it difficult for those of us who truly operate in the corporate space.  In this climate it is prudent to establish legitimacy.

I do believe that much of event planning is driven by passion, experience, creativity and innovation. At the same time, I do not discount a solid knowledge of strategic planning, calculating ROI, budget management, risk assessment and emergency preparedness.  These, among other elements, can be detrimental if never approached or considered in the planning process.  Most certifying bodies cover these basics.

The Forums team is full of qualified event managers who have been well trained in our processes and procedures.  The certifications may or may not make them better planners.  Having a certification will simply give each of my team mates an edge when they begin the work of validating their craft and positively representing our company.

Please keep in mind that the value of a certification is a direct reflection of how respected the organization is that issues it.  Some certifications to consider are as follows. 

  • Certified Meetings Professional (CMP)
  • Certified Meeting Professional Healthcare (CMP-HC)
  • Global Travel Professional (GTP)
  • Certified Quality Event Planner (CQEP)
  • Certified Event Planning Specialist (CEPS)
  • Certification in Meeting Management (CMM)
  • Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
  • Digital Event Strategist (DES)
  • Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM)
  • Professional Certified Marketer (PCM)
  • Certified Trade Show Marketer (CTSM)
  • Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)
  • Certified Professional in Catering and Events (CPCE)
  • Certified Manager of Exhibits (CME)
  • Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS)

Certifications are simply one avenue to become immersed in this industry that we know and love.  Our team makes it a point to attend trades shows, in fact a group of us just attended IMEX 2018.  Tradeshows additionally give us the opportunity to network as well as inspire new ideas.

We also make it a point to belong to industry organizations.  These affiliations and the relationships we make as a result are priceless.  We are abreast of what's new in the industry and we know the top suppliers by name. 

All in all, certifications, trade show participation and industry organization give Forums Meetings & Events a seat at the table.

Do you have any certifications?  Do you want or think you need any?  Send me an email.