In the last few years, the white papers of the Groups and Meetings Committee at the National Business Travel Association, Alexandria, Va., have taken the lead in defining the concept of aprogram. The organization now plans to take its leadership a step further by creating a new SMMP certification.
A multi-day task force meeting in August, during NBTA’s 40th Annual International Convention and Exposition in Los Angeles, brought together approximately 25 senior meeting and travel executives to explore the objectives, content, and structure of the designation. Given the alphabet soup of certifications already available to the meetings and travel industry, the goals of the meeting were to ask, “Is it a good idea? What would it look like? Whom would it benefit?” according to Lisa E. English, CMP, CMM, director of operations for Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., a co-facilitator of the event with Kari Knoll Kesler, global manager-Honeywell Meeting Solutions, Global Travel & Meeting Management, Honeywell International Inc.
Among the group’s decisions:
- The certification is needed.
- It will be open to non-NBTA members as well as suppliers, but it will be written from a corporate practitioners perspective.
- Key knowledge areas for SMMP certification will include risk management, application integration, program optimization (Are you getting the most out of your SMMP program?), trend analysis, and strategic management.
From the task force meeting, an advisory board was set up to work with NBTA over the next year to further develop the program. It will be chaired by English; Knoll Kesler; and Janet Sperstad, CMP, program director, Meeting and Event Management Program, Madison [Wis.] Area Technical College. NBTA plans to roll out the program and announce the first course dates at next summer’s annual meeting in San Diego.
“It’s exciting,” said English. “This is the first and only coursework/certification designed specifically for those charged with SMMP implementation and will speak to the particular skills and abilities required to do that with expertise.”