The New CMP
By Nathalie Tremblay, CMP
Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa
Three years ago, I had never heard of a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). Then, I started working at the Crowne Plaza Gatineau-Ottawa and discovered the CMP program and certification—a brand standard.
A lot of my supplier-colleagues ask me, “Why and who should get this certification?” I hope after reading this article, you will have a better understanding of the CMP program and the benefits for a supplier to get their certification.
Suppliers working as Banquet Directors, Sales Managers and Sales Directors, or as Audio Visual Sales Representatives or Account Directors can all benefit from this certification. The CMP program can help you understand your client’s needs and requirements. It can also help you recognize what types of challenges meeting planners have and how best you can assist them.
Some meeting planners have many years of experience and knowledge, and sometimes we (suppliers) can feel overwhelmed. Have you ever been asked by a meeting planner to have a certain set-up and had no idea what it was? For example once during a site visit to my surprise, a client asked me for a fish bowl set-up. Not a lot of people know what this is or much less have ever used it. By understanding what my client`s strategic goals were, and how she wanted to achieve them using specific set ups I was able to continue the conversation and find out more about her needs. This helped me to win the business as I had gained her trust.
Suppliers often deal with clients with little or no experience, or who are new in their organization and this is where having a CMP certification becomes important because you can use your knowledge to become their trusted advisor. By knowing which questions to ask, you can make recommendations to ensure the event’s success. The planner can concentrate on other pressing matters knowing the decisions made, with your help, correspond to the meeting’s goals and objectives.
Another valuable reason for a supplier to get their certification is for the knowledge they learn about the realities of a meeting planner’s job. As a supplier, your #1 goal is to develop relationships with potential clients and maintain them with your current and past ones. By developing an understanding of a planner`s day to day tasks and stresses, you are in a position to have a meaningful conversation with them during a networking event, or even provide helpful advice on a difficulty they may be having for an event they are planning.
With the worldwide economic struggles, a common goal for all meeting planners is how to cut costs. Suppliers also share a common goal—the challenge being how to increase revenue. In my book, I call it the “Art of Negotiation”. This is also part of the CMP studies, you will learn different ways to achieve a meeting’s objectives, the important factors that make an event successful and where and how best to manage the budgets so all parties succeed.
As the MPI Ottawa Chapter CMP study group leader for 2015 and the upcoming 2016 year, I can attest that all the meeting planners and suppliers who were part of the study group last year benefited greatly, not only from their studies but also from the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences during our sessions.
If you are considering getting your CMP certification or would like more information about it, reach out to any of the CMP committee members and we will gladly share our experience with you!
The New CMP – Planner Perspective
By Karen Norris, CMP
Coaching Association of Canada
I will never forget the feeling of handing in my last university exam to my professor. I walked out of the room, down the steps of the building and into the warm sunshine thinking “I never have to write another exam in my life!”. This is a typical thought from a young, exhausted university student seeing education, studying and exams as a means to an end. That young university graduate would have been shocked to know that 5 years later, I would voluntarily go back to school, enrolling in the Event Management program at Algonquin College’s School of Hospitality & Tourism while employed full time. I continued my full time job and took nine classes over eight months and wrote countless midterms and finals. This time, the feeling after handing in my last exam was not a feeling of freedom but one of confidence and pride. I knew my Event Management certificate would demonstrate to future employers the value they would gain in hiring me. I am not just someone that enjoys and is good at planning events—I am well-educated and trained in the field I am so passionate about. I was already thinking of more education avenues for event management while smiling for my convocation photos.
Given that I had found my calling, it was no surprise that I found myself enrolling for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) program through the Convention Industry Council (CIC) after almost four years of working as a conference coordinator for a large-scale medical conference. I was planning my career path and knew a professional designation in my industry would give me an edge against other event professionals at my level when interviewing. One month after completing the CMP exam, I secured a new position as Manager of Events. My new employer confided in me that having my CMP was one of the factors in their decision to hire me.
The motivation to obtain my CMP designation was not strictly to obtain more money and a better title. It was just as much personal as it was professional. As a planner, and now an event manager, I take great pride in representing my organization through the events that I plan. I feel that my designation brings a certain level of respect to the table during negotiations on behalf of my organization because it shows my commitment to a standard of excellence. It substantiates my credentials as an educated planner by suppliers, third parties and other associations. I feel confident when I walk away from the table knowing that I have obtained the best arrangement for my organization and the supplier I am working with.
My CMP designation also shows that as a planner, I am qualified because of the process that I have to go through to stay relevant. For recertification every five years, I must document my involvement with the meetings industry through employment, continuing education and professional contributions.
A bonus of obtaining your CMP is you are part of an exclusive club at the CIC. A club comprised of people that want to better themselves and the events industry through higher-level education & networking. They host an annual CMP Conclave inviting only those with the CMP designation to gather and share ideas, earn education credits, network with industry leaders and help shape the direction of the CMP program.
Some advice to planners thinking of obtaining their CMP designation:
- Don’t rush into it. It is a very demanding program on top of a full-time job and all the other responsibilities we have as type A control freaks.
- Wait until you have at least five years of professional experience before applying to write the exam (the CMP application process only requires three years of professional experience).
- Taking the exam itself can be stressful (metal detectors, cameras and a countdown clock on your computer) and the exam itself is very difficult.
Make no mistakes, the process can be a challenging journey but that is what makes obtaining your designation so much more valued and respected, especially by other CMPers.
My CMP designation validates me; to the event industry, to my suppliers but most importantly—to me. It was a long and hard journey to get to where I am today professionally but remember, if it is important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.
CMP Information Session
You’re invited to come hear about the CMP Program – including application and exam information!
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Location: Coaching Association of Canada
(1155 Lola Street, Suite 201)
Building is secure so please ring doorbell out front when you arrive to be let in.
Parking: After 1630 free parking is available in front or around the back of the building.
RSVP: MPI Ottawa Secretariat, Larissa Cerskus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Edited by Cynthia Beaudin, Canada Foundation for Innovation]