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professional development for meeting planners

Professional Development for Meeting Planners

When I started into the meeting planning profession almost 20 year ago, professional development for meeting planners was very limited.  Ask anyone who has been in the industry for 15+ years, and a majority of them “fell” into their meeting planner position, and resources and training were picked up along the way.

Now, our newcomer and intermediate meeting planners have options to attend post-secondary school courses and obtain certificates, diplomas or even degrees in event management, marketing and hospitality.  The certifications that were introduced to fill a need for planners looking for specialized support continue to be improved and expanded.  Now, you can find a number of options for professional development for meeting planners, through a number of outlets with programs to help legitimize their profession and add regulations and clarity around their role.

Below is a list of training, schools and resources, for the new planner up to senior planners:


  1. Certified Meeting Professional designation (CMP) – a learning staple among the intermediate senior planners that did not have the opportunity to obtain college schooling for meeting planning, the CMP program added credibility and guidelines to our work as meeting planners that “fell” into the industry. The content, resources and testing are being continuously updated.  It is run through the Events Industry Council and information on it can be found here.    You need to recertify every 5 years, and can recertify through volunteer work, work experience, teaching and writing experience, etc.  As a CMP myself, I can’t tell you how amazing this program was, it was worth every sleepless night preparing for the daunting exam.
  2. Certified Meeting Manager certification (CMM) – this certification helps those meeting managers who wish to take on a leadership role in the meetings community. It is managed by MPI, and you can find more information about CMM here. Some corporate planners with a CMM designation look ahead to Strategic Meetings Management programs at their organizations.  This is one-time certification, no need to recertify.
  3. Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) – managed by ILEA, this is the program for those that are passionate about running special events (versus meetings and conferences.). Special events are typically less than a day in length, sometimes only a few hours, and some.  Info about the CSEP program can be found here.  This certification helped legitimize the strategic work that goes behind every special events, and increases the credibility of those serious about events.  Not everyone can be a “party planner”, and this designation is not for the casual planner.
  4. Post-secondary – numerous universities and colleges now offer 1 year, 2 year and 4 year programs that focus on meetings management and services to the meetings industry. Check your local universities and colleges for what they offer – some common terms may include:
    1. Event management
    2. Event marketing
    3. Event Planning
    4. hospitality

You can also learn lots from the various publications that are out in the market for meeting planners.

  1. The Meeting Professional – through MPI, an association for meeting planners
    • Monthly publication, predominantly US content although the association is global and there is content for other countries
    • Member focus – profile on a current MPI member and their career path
    • Event focus – takes a “backstage” view at events planned by members and some of the adversities they faced when planning
  2. Convene – through PCMA, an association for meeting planners
    • Monthly publication, predominantly US content although the association is global and there is content for other countries
    • Destination snapshot – a quick “by the numbers” look at a different destination each month
    • Event focus – takes a “backstage” view at events planned by members and some of the adversities they faced when planning
    • CMP hours – you can read and get tested on some articles for CMP credit
    • Destinations – about 1/3 of the magazine is sponsored content from various destinations (content varies month to month)
  3. Meetings Today – US based publication
    • Fantastic articles and content
    • Planner profiles in their “movers and shakers” section
    • Lots of destination information (mostly US based but has a small Global section)
  4. Ignite – Canadian publication
    • Colourful and playful delivery
    • Lots of trendy products and information
    • Website has fun monthly survey question
    • FAM information (also found on website)
  5. Meetings and Incentive Travel (M&IT – a Canadian Publication)
    • Canadian content, Canadian contributors and articles
    • Relevant and timely articles
    • Lots of pics of Canadian #eventprofs out and about town at various events (chances are, if you’re an #eventprofs networker in Eastern Canada, you’ll find yourself in M&IT at some point 😊)
  6. Corporate Meetings and Events – Canada’s publication for corporate meeting planners
    • Relevant articles, content focused on corporate meetings (but still a great resource for association and other types of meeting planners)
    • Planner Profiles
    • Lots of operational tools and resources


The professional development resources and designations above are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources for meeting and event planners (I haven’t even started on blogs and social media!!)

Wherever you are in your meeting planning career, you’re not alone and there are resources everywhere for you to tap into.  Take some time this season to explore some ideas and content that interests you!


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