The Virtual Edge Institute, Pleasanton, Calif., will launch a program in June to train and certify event marketers, meeting professionals, trade show managers, and others in the fast-growing—and fast-changing—field of digital events.

The new Digital Events Strategist Certification program will cover subjects such as how to select vendors, create a digital engagement strategy, monetize digital events, and draw an audience. The first classes will be held June 23, in Baltimore, in partnership with the Professional Conference Management Association, which is wrapping up its annual Education Conference that day. VEI’s Executive Director Michael Doyle says PCMA has had a mentor relationship with the new certification program and, going forward, he hopes to deliver DES certification workshops at a variety of industry events as well as through online channels.

Certification will be awarded to those who successfully complete the training sessions and pass a written exam, but details, such as the number of training hours required, cost, and recertification time frame, are still being worked out. Doyle says he expects DES certification to be a “relatively low-cost program” and that recertification will be required, probably every two years, because of the fast pace of change in technology and techniques.

Doyle believes the certification will help fill a learning gap that’s restricting the growth of virtual meetings. “There’s a bottleneck in the marketplace, both on the client side, where many organizations don’t feel they have the expertise to deliver virtual solutions, and with technology platform providers.” The platform providers, he explains, are being asked to do more work on the event-management side, but their strength is in technology, not meetings. He says more people, are needed who understand both sides of virtual events. “People are postponing, or not holding, virtual events because of a lack of expertise,” Doyle says. “Everybody is looking for people with these kinds of skills, but they don’t exist.”

PCMA CEO Deborah Sexton expects that the new certification will be a benefit to members’ careers and organizations. “Many of our members are exploring virtual options to their meetings, events, and conferences. By partnering with VEI on this new program, our members will gain the expertise they require to not only take advantage of all the opportunities that virtual provides for their organizations, but also for the advancement of their careers,” said Sexton, in a press release.