Certifications and Education

One of the most common questions I get asked is "How did I become an event and meeting planner?" Well, my answer is long, but some great advice is to reach out and or join the many professional societies for event professionals. Here is a rundown:
(Source: Successful Meeting Magazine, July 09, 2008, Corrie Dosh)

CMP – Certified Meeting Professional The Convention Industry Council awards this designation based on professional experience and a written examination. Considered the foremost certification program of today's meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry, the CMP program recognizes individuals who have achieved the industry's highest standard of professionalism. CMPs must be recertified every five years.To apply:

CMM – Certification in Meeting Management This designation offered by Meeting Professionals International began in Europe. As the first university co-developed professional designation (with the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University), the program blends a traditional educational framework with a hands-on, interactive setting. CMM candidates take part in an intensive four-step process that includes pre-residency, residency, examination, and post-residency components. Pre-residency involves active participation in an MPI learning group using online technology and a variety of reading assignments; residency includes a four-and-a-half-day full-immersion course and examination; and finally, there is a post-residency business project.To apply:

CAE – Certified Association Executive The American Society of Association Executives awards this certification to designate association professionals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to the practice of association management. The program, founded in 1960, comprises a written test and 75 hours of broad-based qualifying professional development within the past five years.To apply:

CEM – Certified Exposition Manager The International Association of Exhibitions & Events offers the designation to those who complete a nine-part program within three years. The program is composed of seven mandatory courses and two courses chosen from five available electives. Advanced-level courses are also available for CEMs to continue their professional education and obtain recertification.To apply:

CITE – Certified Incentive Travel Executive The Society of Incentive & Travel Executives awards this designation to those who demonstrate their extensive knowledge of the industry and achieve its highest standard of excellence. To be approved, applicants must complete six steps within a year, including a three-hour exam, an original research paper, and earning 100 qualifying experience points.To apply:

CSEP – Certified Special Events Professional The International Special Events Society awards this based on education, performance, experience, and service to the industry. It reflects a commitment to professional conduct and ethics. To earn the designation, applicants must pass a written examination and earn 35 professional industry points.To apply:

Check out these other certifications available for those in the meetings industry:
American Hotel and Lodging Association ( Certified Hospitality Sales Professional (CHSP), Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), Certified Hospitality Supervisor (CHS), Certified Lodging Manager (CLM), Certified Food and Beverage Executive (CFBE), Master Hotel Supplier (MHS),
Association of Destination Management Executives ( Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP); Accredited Destination Management Company (ADMC)
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International ( Certified in Hospitality Sales Competencies (CHSC); Certified Hospitality Marketing Executive (CHME)
National Association of Catering Executives ( Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE)
National Speakers Association ( Certified Speaking Professional (CSP)
PMPN Meetings With Impact ( Certified Medical Meeting Manager (CMMM)
Trade Show Exhibitors Association ( Certified Manager of Exhibits (CME)


Just in time for Harvest Celebrations...

Gourmet websites that carry exotic ingredients are an important vendor to keep in your "back pocket." They can supply fruits, plants and vegetables that can add the wow-factor to a centerpiece, buffet or decor set. For instance, if you're having a desert oasis theme, where can you find cactus pads? Here are 2 websites to add to your favorites:


Photo credit: Friedas; Idea Source: Real Simple


Stellar Tips...

Event Planners know we must learn from each others' wins and losses. collected a ton of tips from meeting and event planners as part of its Stellar Tip Contest. Check out the entire list at:

One of the most common submissions had to do with emergency/SOS kits for planners. In my opinion, different events require different emergency kits. I wouldn't pack the same kit for a formal wedding that I would for a small pharmaceutical dinner! What would a physician do with double-sided tape!

That said, I am working on a post that details my emergency kit components for the various event types. More to come!


A Beautiful Wedding Video

Love the song... love Portia's dress... love the table setting... love the flowers. Check out the newly released wedding video of Ellen and Portia:


Etsy for your wedding... and events

I love I could get lost on that site for hours! I find it the best marketplace for finding anything custom. I'd use these talented vendors for social and corporate events too!

-and more!


Tablecards by Cheer Up Cherup:


Greening your Events

I previously mentioned the presentation by Greg Christian that I attended at BizBash Chicago. I'd like to share further learnings that I hope are as profound for you as they were for me.

Here are some notations on how Greg makes his events/kitchen green:
  • zero-waste kitchen
  • cooking oils > biofuels
  • increase % of organic and local ingredients
  • sustainable seafood
  • fair-trade tea and coffee
  • free employee meal(s)
Greg urges event planners to put "green" questions/requirements into our RFPs. I think this is such a fantastic idea. It forces the hotels/convention centers to go green and think about their footprint. Here are some starting points:
  • Specify that a certain percentage of food must be local and/or organic
  • Specify use of "green" alcohol - at least beer and wine
  • Ensure hotel recycles
  • Ask that extra food be donated to a local shelter
Additionally, you can get specific. For example, Fiji Water is the most sustainable bottled water brand in the world - ask for it. (Although filtered water is preferred, we all know that it is not always well-received by event guests.)

Here are some additional sources to learn more:
"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
— from the World Commission on Environment and Development’s(the Brundtland Commission) report
Our Common Future (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987).


Importance of Food Presentation

My ridiculously talented friend, Jen Jaax, is entering the world of food styling. Her newest photos are below. Don't you want to dive right into the "Raspberry Fool?"

As Jen says, you eat with your eyes - and she is certainly right! Food presentation is such an important detail - especially in professional event planning. Simply put, you want your guests to want to eat! Beyond taste testing, make sure you review the presentation skills of your caterer - whether its a buffet or seated meal. Don't be afraid to dive into the details and give specifics of how you want food presented... and think outside the box to use unusual serving platters and enhancements.

I must also give Jen a shout-out for her work in recipe development for Smithfield Foods. The program offers free weekly menu planners to Smithfield website subscribers. Daily emails provide well-balanced, easy to prepare meals and corresponding grocery lists. And, you know if Paula Deen is the spokewoman, the recipes are delish! Visit for more info.