The Global Business Travel Association is discontinuing its Strategic Meetings Management Certification program, which launched just two years ago, as part of a major overhaul of its professional education. During a press conference at its annual convention in Denver, GBTA announced the formation of GBTA Academy, which will replace the existing Corporate Travel Expert (CTE), Certified Corporate Travel Executive (CCTE), and SMMC programs.

GBTA Academy will offer three certificates for business travel professionals at different levels:

  • The associate-level certificate, available now, is aimed at travel buyers and suppliers with less than three years of of experience. The CTE designation was at this level.
  • The manager-level certificate, starting in early 2012, will be offered in partnership with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. It’s aimed at professionals with three to seven years of experience, and will focus on managing change and risk, balancing stakeholder needs, optimizing processes, and using data to drive business decisions. The CCTE and SMMC designations were at this level.
  • The leader-level certificate, available now, is geared to the most experienced travel professionals. It will use the curriculum of GBTA’s existing Global Leadership Professional program, developed and delivered by faculty from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Association leaders have said that there will be further discussion this fall about how the Academy will integrate specialized education on strategic meetings management into the new model.

GBTA is also rolling out a new Global Travel Professional certification, which, said Amanda Cecil, GBTA’s dean of education, will be the “premier certification for the business travel professional.” The first GTP standardized test will be administered in July 2012 at the GBTA Convention in Boston. Applications to take the new computer-based, three-hour, 150-question exam will be available in early spring 2012.

The announcement caught some GBTA members off guard, especially since it was made at luncheon honoring new CCTE recipients. According to Cecil, people who have earned the CCTE, CTE, and SMMC can continue to use those designations.

In other GBTA news:

  • The GBTA Foundation, in partnership with GBTA’s Strategic Meetings Management task force and StarCite Inc., announced the launch of the Strategic Meetings Management Maturity Index. The SMM Maturity Index allows companies to identify the developmental progress of their SMM programs and provides recommendations for further improvement.
  • GBTA launched a new global portal on its Web site, which allows members from around the world to connect with their peers.
  • Craig Banikowski, director, global travel management, at Hilton Hotels Corp., stepped down as president, to be replaced by Jim McMullan, global travel manager, Research Triangle Institute.
  • The GBTA convention drew 6,000 attendees to Denver, the association's largest convention ever.