One of the most rewarding things I do as a Professor at AIB College of Business is creating within the students an excitement about entering this challenging, fast-growing and even faster changing career. I also feel it’s important to instill in the students the desire to be life-long learners. Graduation is not the end of their educational journey, rather it is just the beginning. I encourage students to pick up magazines like Midwest Meetings to stay current on the issues, trends and challenges facing meeting planners. I want them to appreciate the value of associations and certifications to enhance their skills, knowledge and career advancement. My ultimate goal is to introduce students to the wide-range of opportunities available to them upon graduation if they continue to be life-long learners.
Knowing students as well as I do, I began to anticipate their next question, “What are the benefits of these industry-related certifications?” With a little research I knew this would be an easy question to answer. It didn’t take me long to find the most cited benefits for professional certification within the meeting and event planning industry. These benefits include recognition as a professional demonstrating a high level of experience, skills and knowledge; peer acceptance as someone committed to the advancement of the industry; commitment conveying that you are goal driven; competitive advantage giving credibility to your ideas and opinions and finally, salary enhancement. As I share this information with the students, I remind them of what those “letters” after their name can do for them. The same is true for those already working in the industry. What are your goals and can those “letters” after your name help you get there?
The meeting industry has a variety of wonderful member associations like Meeting Professionals International, Professional Convention Management Association, International Special Events Society and The Convention Industry Council. These are just a few of the many associations that provide value to a meeting planner, both personally and also to the organization they work for, with a variety of continuing education opportunities and certifications and/or designations that bring both status and credence. Members can take the best practices, new skills and knowledge gained from the association back to their organization to improve efficiency and profitability and demonstrate their value as a meeting planner to their organization.
In addition to certification opportunities, association membership also allows planners to stay current in this ever changing industry. One of the many challenges facing planners today is the necessity of applying the latest techniques and trends to their meetings as the industry undergoes almost unprecedented changes. The most notable trends in this industry are incorporating technology and social media, increasing attendee interaction, the need to show value and ROI for each meeting and how to be socially responsible in planning. After researching the various industry-related member associations and the resources they offered, I found that educational opportunities were available for each of those notable trends. Members can view webinars, attend a meeting, listen to an expert in a particular area or meet to share best practices.
So how can a planner stay current on the changes and demonstrate value to their organization? Subscribe to industry-related publications and join an association and take advantage of the available educational opportunities and certifications. Let’s encourage everyone to have “letters” behind their names.
As a professor teaching event and meeting planning classes at AIB College of Business in Des Moines, IA for 15 years, Rita knows the value of a strong educational foundation for students desiring a career as a meeting planner. Her goal in the classroom is to prepare students to be successful by introducing them to the necessary knowledge and skills meeting planners must know to organize successful meetings. She strongly encourages her students in the Event, Hospitality and Tourism associate degree program at AIB College of Business to continue their education once in the industry through the many certification programs available to meeting professionals.