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Why certification will prove event planners' value

MPI president says increased focus on professionalisation can convince governments of industry value

Pictured: This year's EMEC has adopted the Danish Meetovation approach to meeting design

Professionalising the job of a meeting planner will help prove to government the value of events, according to Meeting Professionals International (MPI) president Paul van Deventer.

With the UK government forming the first Event Industry Board in January, Van Deventer said certification will help convince authorities of the value the role brings.

Qualifications such as the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) and Certified Meeting Manager (CMM) should be held in the same regard as the equivalent industry certification attached to professions such as accounting, van Deventer told M&IT at this week’s MPI European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) in Copenhagen. 

The CMP, which has a low take up rate in the UK, has been given a push by the association’s UK & Ireland Chapter with Boot Camps to prepare candidates taking place since 2014, when fewer than 30 held the certificate.

Van Deventer said: “From an external view of our industry we are not given the credit for the value we deliver. If you look at other industries that have a great respect for their quality and professionalism they have an understood standard and we need to promote the value of the certificates like the CMP.”

The CMP is owned by the Convention Industry Council (CIC) and Van Deventer argued that the examination is too US-centric and references issues that UK planners may not be able to relate to, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act. He now holds a position on the CIC board and hopes to influence change. 

“It is not a global test, so we need to globalise the exam and the content.”

Fiona Pelham, who is serving as the 2016 MPI board chair, says UK attitudes also need to soften. She added: “I was amazed at how much value is placed on event management (In the US) but it’s not the case in the UK, it’s more widely recognised there.  We have suffered in the UK in that we are not very good at accepting education content from the US.”

EMEC has attracted more than 400 delegates to the Danish capital this week, and adopted the Danish Meetovation concept of meeting design throughout education and networking sessions.

Van Deventer added: “People wanted us to take risks and they want us to start thinking differently so they can start to think differently. The Danish Chapter approached us and said ‘we have something different’, it was new to us and we though was very creative, and I am seeing it come to life. 

“Delegates love the energy, they love the creativity and you can see we are taking a risk.”

MPI also plans to engage more effectively with its European members, a process that will start with all European chapter presidents heading to Atlantic City for the World Education Congress, funded by a grant from the MPI Foundation. 

Van Deventer said: “I think we have a very strong association and we have a great global brand, we now have the opportunity to expand our influence across the meetings and events industry,

The key is understanding what are the priorities of members in this market. We have to invest more in the European chapters, how we achieve that will be how we talk to people and how we interact with members of the community: give them access to expertise that they may not get on their own or in the local community, for example.”

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