The Meeting Professionals International Foundation has made a significant commitment toward strategic meetings management education and research with the recent announcement of a $250,000 grant from Gaylord Entertainment earmarked to MPI’s new SMM Initiative.

The funds will support the first phase of the initiative, which, according to Didier Scaillet, chief development officer for MPI and the MPI Foundation, will consist of “the building of a taxonomy around meeting effectiveness tools.”

It appears that MPI seeks to broaden the scope of SMM beyond its present definition. “We want to move the needle on the traditional definition of SMM, which is around spend consolidation, leveraging risk and legal management,” said Scaillet. “Our efforts will be more focused on outputs"—in other words, performance measurement.

The Global Business Travel Association, whose Groups and Meetings Committee have been thought leaders around SMM for the past decade, responded to the news of MPI's significant investment in SMM education with a public statement that it has “an ongoing commitment to advancing education, knowledge, research, and best practices in the industry as a whole and for SMM specifically,” and that it will be making “many exciting announcements surrounding our educational programs and initiatives” at its upcoming convention August 21-24 in Denver.

In 2009, GBTA launched the first-ever SMM certification, known as the SMMC, and the Groups and Meetings Committee has been developing a toolkit of hands-on templates for practitioners.

The Gaylord investment, along with a $250,000 donation from Freeman Audio Visual, make 2011 a landmark year for the MPI Foundation, with more than $2.566 million raised so far—the most ever raised in a 12-month period.

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