I recently read an article describing meeting planners who had no qualms about claiming to have earned a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation when in fact they had not, or who had earned it a long time ago and never gotten recertified. They justified their actions by claiming variously that the dues are too high for the CMP designation and recertification, that their superiors and organizations as a whole were ignorant anyway about the significance of the certification, and that there aren't any employer verification methods.

Should we be upset with these folks? As a CMP, I am upset with their dishonest practices, but I also found it beneficial to learn what is taking place among our peers and in our industry. We know there is ignorance, apathy, and abuse regarding the CMP designation. So what do we do?

First, in order to combat ignorance, we must educate. To lead this mission, the governing body of the CMP certification program, the Convention Industry Council, must better promote the value of earning a CMP to all meeting and hospitality professionals. Industry press should increase awareness of the CMP designation through educational articles, and meeting professionals must introduce the CMP designation to their respective superiors, organizations, and industry colleagues. Institutes of higher education should offer more courses that will prepare students and graduates for the CMP examination. And speakers at industry events should promote the CMP designation when possible.

Second, in order to eliminate apathy, we must stimulate. The CIC must exhaust communication resources to all industry organizations to highlight the vital benefits of earning the CMP designation. The CIC should host periodic educational programs via different media, including traditional meetings, teleconferences, and webcasts. The CIC can offer small incentives, like meetings industry books, and refreshments and meals, for participation in these events. Employer organizations must offer professional incentives, including paying for the exam, paid time off to study, and bonus and promotion opportunities, for an employee to earn the CMP designation.

And third, we must police. The CIC must publish via the media, and include on its own Web site, an annual directory of current CMP designees. Colleagues must report all violating individuals to the CIC . The CIC may consider offering incentives, like industry books or complimentary attendance at a CIC-hosted meeting, to those who report violations. We may not be able to establish penalties to the violators, other than a lifetime ban of earning the CMP designation, but we can do as much as legally and ethically possible.

If we succeed with this action plan, then all CMPs will enjoy the benefits of the most "advanced degree" within our professional field. Those benefits include not only increased knowledge, self-confidence, and marketability, but also greater respect from colleagues.