by Elizabeth Zielinski, CMM | January 6, 2014

Last month, Meeting Professionals International announced plans for a sweeping revision to its existing Certificate in Meeting Management program that will be made in collaboration with the Global Business Travel Association. (You can read about the announcement here.)

The news elicited a quick reaction on social media from individuals who already hold the CMM designation, as well as from those who have considered obtaining it. Questions and comments centered on whether a revamp of the program was necessary for, or relevant to, the meetings industry, why it would be partnered with GBTA and what it realistically could do for the industry.

I have held both the Certified Meeting Professional designation as well as the CMM. I was a CMP for 15 years before deciding to allow it to expire, and I obtained the CMM the first year it was offered in North America in 1998. I have taught, mentored, evaluated and participated in the continuing development of both programs. Though both have played important roles in my career, the CMM is the one that made the biggest difference to my educational growth and that I will always use in professional circles. My point of view on this announcement is that I'm very excited about it -- more so than I have been about any new or revised product from MPI in a long time.

Some have expressed concern about whether the program will now appeal to fewer people or if its relevance to the meetings industry will be diluted. To that I would respond that the CMM was never intended to be for broad audiences, and it was never intended to be purely about meetings. It was developed as a product for senior industry professionals only, and not just planners. It was structured with the express purpose of teaching more about a broader business environment and the strategic role of meetings within it. With that in mind, neither of those concerns are an issue.

And why is MPI partnering with GBTA when the CMM has always been its own designation? I'm personally impressed by this partnership choice. Because the two organizations focus on different areas, many meetings industry professionals are unaware of just how progressive GBTA has been on meetings-oriented topics. For example, GBTA's white paper on implementing strategic meeting management programs was first issued in 2004, when informational material on the subject was still hard to find elsewhere. The association also has taken a clear position on corporate social responsibility and green meetings. The common interests of the two organizations are clear, and I believe that GBTA's slightly different view will bring a valuable perspective to the education it helps to develop.

As to the question of what the revised designation will do to enhance the industry, I think anything that teaches us a more complete understanding of our business strategies and economic value will produce stronger work and more validation overall.

In the past, the CMM program sometimes struggled with delivering on promises, and the curriculum could be inconsistent. Much remains to be seen about how the delivery of this revised program will evolve. But I am cautiously optimistic about both the decision and the supporting rationale the sponsors have described. I'd love to hear what you think, too.  Please comment below, via email to, or tweet your thoughts to @E_Zielinski.