"As strategic meetings management continues to evolve," notes Kari Kesler Wendel, SMMC, "it would be nice to have a place to go for thought leadership." While the Alexandria, Va.-based Greater Business Travel Association revamped its approach to education after offering the SMMC program and certificate in 2009 and 2010, in the past couple of years, claims Kesler Wendel, the volunteer effort put into SMM education, models and tools has fallen off.
Kesler Wendel, the senior director of SMM Strategy + Solutions for Minneapolis-based CWT Meetings & Events, has tried to do her part via quarterly "SMM Smart Sessions," knowledge-sharing benchmarking seminars hosted by CWT in a handful of markets. Neither CWT nor any other suppliers are permitted to sell during these events.
In addition, CWT is sponsoring a research project in conjunction with the GBTA Foundation about the current state of SMM, the findings of which will be discussed at the GBTA Convention in August. Additionally, GBTA has partnered with Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International to create a new education and training program. "The focus of the educational content," explains MPI COO Cindy D'Aoust, "will be developing leadership skills, with the opportunity to be supplemented by specialty electives."
Participants will gain the knowledge required to manage meetings and events at the enterprise level, D'Aoust adds, and they can choose to attend specialty boot camps on topics such as procurement, association management and virtual meetings. "We want to take the best of everything that's out there and bring it together in a way that supports our community," says D'Aoust. MPI likely will announce the first program details later this year, but will have a session at next month's World Education Congress in Las Vegas, she adds.
Meanwhile, Scotch Plains, N.J.-based consultant Debi Scholar, GLP, CMM, CMP, CTE, has written Your Strategic Meetings Management Toolkit, a 300-page book that includes many of the author's templates and tools she has issued over the years. As of June 15, the book will be available for purchase via Amazon and iTunes. (Before this issue went to press, Scholar became the director, managed meetings strategies, for New York City-based American Express Meetings & Events.)