The first two Digital Event Strategist (DES) certifications have been awarded to meeting professionals by the Virtual Edge Institute, which created the program.

JoAnn Klinedinst, DES, vice president of professional development for Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and Rick Naylor, DES, president and CEO of meeting and events production company Accucom Corporate Communications in Toronto, passed their final exams at the Professional Convention Management Association’s Convening Leaders conference in Orlando in January.

To get to that point, the two completed the program’s 16-module online course, which instructs meeting professionals on how to plan, design, build, and execute digital events. “It’s a tremendous body of knowledge,” said Klinedinst. “I just can’t say enough about the instructors and the quality of the resource material that’s part of the program.”

Digital events are not a fad, but an expectation, said Naylor. “I’ve got clients asking about the technology so I was motivated to learn,” he said. “The DES program has a lot of great information, and I was surprised that I didn’t know as much as I thought. I’ve already been streaming content at my events.”

While these are the first two people to earn their DES, many more will follow, as VEI Executive Director Michael Doyle reports strong demand since the program launched in late 2011. There are currently 53 students enrolled in the program with 50 more preparing for entrance.

The DES certification is open to all meeting professionals. Learn more at the DES Web site.  Costs include a $175 application fee, $595 for the education modules, and $325 for the final exam. Scholarships are available.

VEI has also launched a Digital Event Center program, which designates meeting venues as Digital Event Centers based on their virtual events capabilities and infrastructure. The Metro Toronto Convention Centre and the Dallas Convention Center are the first two facilities in North America to be VEI-verified Digital Events Centers. The venue verification process, which is voluntary, assesses network infrastructure and capacity and reviews in-house services from AV to electrical and furnishings for a virtual studio.