Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Cover Story

CMMs Get Steamed About
New ‘Designation’ From MPI and GBTA

Existing CMM holders are putting pressure on Meeting Professionals International (MPI) in response to the newly announced CMM designation (formerly Certificate in Meeting Management) for meeting and travel professionals, now jointly administered by MPI and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).

The collaboration, initially announced in October 2012, appealed to GBTA because about half of its members manage meetings within their organizations. The CMM designation becomes the first and only collaborative program for meeting and travel professionals, noted Cindy D’Aoust, MPI chief operating officer. The two associations formed a separate LLC to manage the program and future joint opportunities, and a taskforce comprising MPI and GBTA members and current CMMs worked throughout 2013 to finalize all aspects of the program, said Daphne Bryant, executive director of the GBTA Foundation..

The controversial changes: The elite CMM certificate previously required a formal application, and specific and stringent criteria for acceptance into the program. According to initial information from GBTA and MPI, the new CMM designation was to have no pre-requisites; participants would self-select into the new program. One key reason: “We’re seeing more people come into the industry with hospitality and meeting degrees and more experience,” noted Bryant.

Concerns immediately erupted from existing CMM holders around a lack of communication about the pending changes; elimination of the requirement of 10 years’ experience; and less rigor in the educational program. A LinkedIn CMM Group initiated a conference call in early January. Then, a “town hall” call was structured so that MPI representatives could answer specific questions, but was set with short notice, leaving some CMMs in the LinkedIn Group unable to participate. Another point of issue: GBTA and MPI informed those professionals who have achieved the Strategic Meetings Management Certification (SMMC) that they may now use the CMM designation in its place, since GBTA has phased out SMMC.

“What I find most disturbing is how the CMM community received no communication of the changes to the designation or the ability to offer input prior to the announcement,” said Stormi Boyd, CMP, CMM, senior events and convention manager, Keller Williams Realty International. She noted that none of the CMMs in the LinkedIn Group recalled a research survey — whose findings influenced the CMM changes — that MPI indicated it had sent a year ago to active MPI members (Boyd had dropped her membership), nor had any been contacted directly for input.

An MPI letter on its website, dated January 27, cited the December 18 announcement of the new CMM Designation and the January 22 conference call with the CMM LinkedIn Group. It also provided a mailbox for those who have questions, wish to give feedback or need further information: cmm@mpiweb.org.

In a video alongside directed to CMM “designees,” MPI CEO Paul Van Deventer acknowledged that the revised program could have been announced “more effectively,” that “we respect you and welcome an open dialogue,” and “we will listen to feedback and make adjustments, as appropriate.” To that end, MPI hosted phone-in forums on February 13 and 14. Then, invitations were sent to CMM holders, those interested in pursuing the designation, and those on the phone-in calls to participate in two advisory forums, led by an independent facilitator, scheduled for the week of February 17.

Meanwhile, MPI posted a chart that compared the former CMM certificate, the SMMC and the new CMM designation. The chart presented pre-requisites for the new CMM designation that had not been outlined initially: Minimum 5 years of experience and significant financial oversight; resume; personal statement, one-page motivational essay; and letter of recommendation from professional colleague or supervisor.

The CMM Forums. Many callers during last week’s CMM Forums explained why key program changes gave the perception of “devaluing” of the CMM brand. They specifically cited the lessening of the eligibility requirement to five years and replacement of an exam with an independent final project.

The New CMM. The program’s formal name on the MPI web site is CMM: The Business Standard of Excellence for Meeting and Travel Professional. To attain the new designation, participants will learn such advanced business skills as risk mitigation, analytics and compliance, and strategic negotiation. The program is open to both members of the two organizations and non-members. Participants will advance through three phases:

Phase 1: Three-and-a-half days of on-site business education sessions led by university professors, initially from from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, as well as two self-led webinars. Educational content is the same for all, and MPI indicates it is not dramatically different from that of the previous program.

Phase 2: Attendance at a one-day boot camp whose sessions are taught by subject matter experts; boot camps will be held at both GBTA and MPI conventions. Program participants can choose a travel-focused or a meeting-focused boot camp, according to MPI.

Phase 3: Completion of an independent business case assessment. A document will outline what is required, and Amanda Cecil, PhD, CMP, dean of education for GBTA Academy, will oversee the entire program, according to GBTA.

Dates and locations for the education sessions and boot camps were being finalized at press time. While there is no time limit for working through the program, “the idea is to complete the work project within six months of finishing the course work and boot camp,” said Bryant.

All current CMM holders will retain their designation. Existing and new CMM holders will be encouraged to refresh their skills by attending CMM conclaves that GBTA and MPI will host annually, since continuing education credits are not required to maintain the designation. GBTA will continue to separately administer its Global Leadership Professional program, which focuses on executive-level skill development. However, it is open to MPI members at a discounted rate.

To learn more about the CMM program, contact Christine Perry at MPI: cmm@mpiweb.org; or Matt Konetschni at GBTA: mkonetschni@gbta.orgMaxine Golding

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