The Viability of the CMP - A Discussion

Parchment Diploma Scroll

I recently spoke at a local Meeting Professionals International Chapter's meeting planning basics program on the opportunities and importance of continuing education in the hospitality industry.

It came as a surprise to me when attendees mentioned they were unaware of all the different options for education available to industry professionals outside of the CMP program. After some reflection, and noting my indulgent attitude toward education and the importance of never stopping to learn no matter what age, I realized the lack of knowledge of options available is partly due to the lack of communication about them by those within the meetings industry.

The industry buzzes about CMPs to the point that many new to the industry might think this is a huge requirement for their success. In fact, I have been asked this question many times by new-to-the-industry professionals, debating what their next step will be in continuing education–and I admittedly struggle in answering the question–"Should I get my CMP?"

My typical answer: "I don't know, should you?"

I acquired my CMP in 2001 – six years after I "fell into" the industry working for a corporation in the Midwest. I received no formal training or education in event planning and essentially learned on the job while also attending a couple of MPI Institute programs focused on providing intensive education on meeting planning. For me, achieving the CMP was both a personal and professional goal. It provided me the satisfaction in obtaining and being noted for something I worked toward, and in addition, provided me professional knowledge and education I had yet to receive anywhere else.

According to the Convention Industry Council website, the CMP was launched, "in 1985 to enhance the knowledge and performance of meeting professionals, promote the status and credibility of the meeting profession, and advance uniform standards of practice." 

1985, a time when event management and meeting planning was conducted, in a majority of instances, by the human resources department or executive assistants. A time when undergraduate degrees, graduate degrees and even doctorates were not available with the title "hospitality management" or "event management."

As our industry has progressed and become a viable economic factor, we are now seeing professionals new to the industry coming to the table with university degrees in event management. Purposely choosing a career path to lead them to meeting planning. The answer on the industry old question of, "How did you get into the industry?" is replacing "I fell into it," with "I chose it." Some might say these purpose driven professionals are seeking (and obtaining) knowledge that surpasses what can be learned through the CMP program.

What if you don't want to achieve your CMP? Some professionals might scream blasphemy, but for many I have found in talking with them this is neither a professional nor personal goal, but instead, a feeling they have to achieve this designation to be considered for career advancement.

The industry abounds with so many other certificate designations and programs one can receive depending on your area of focus or expertise – is it possible the CMP is not the 'coup de grâce' it once was?

Posted by Larissa J. Schultz, CMP, MHA

Larissa is a writer, author, and professional speaker in the hospitality industry. She is also an adjunct professor at Glendale Community College teaching in the Hospitality and Tourism program.

Follow Larissa on Twitter: @LarissaJSchultz
Visit Larissa's Website: www.ljsmeetingstrategies.com/

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