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Which Certification is Most Relevant to Your Career Path in the Hospitality & Meetings Industry?

Cindy G. Hayes, CMP, DMCP

Director of Sales

AlliedPRA New Orleans



A few weeks ago, I came across a website on LinkedIn.  It had an excellent page directing individuals to industry organizations, the value of their membership, and mapped out hotel, convention bureau, and meeting planning positions and responsibilities.  My first thought was wow!  This is a great tool for someone entering the hospitality industry, but how can it be expanded upon?  

One thing that caught my attention when I looked at the website above was that a DMC (Destination Management Company) was not mentioned.  Surely it was an oversight and for new or seasoned hospitality veterans, the DMC sector is a great career path, particularly when working for AlliedPRA who currently holds the number one market share position in the DMC category of the U.S. Business Events Industry and for the AlliedPRA New Orleans office who was named among the “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America” by Inc.5000.

After leaving the hotel industry with 29 years of hospitality experience, I didn’t have a single designation or certification showing my clients the value of my expertise and commitment to continuing education until I joined AlliedPRA New Orleans.  If I were a doctor or insurance agent, that would be totally unacceptable to my clients right? 

Fortunately, our company supports all associates being involved in industry organizations and holding leadership positions within those organizations.  Shortly after joining AlliedPRA New Orleans, I studied, passed the exams, and earned my CMP and DMCP.  As Director of Education for the MPI Gulf States Chapter, my personal goal was to insure our chapter was a CMP Preferred Provider.  We now offer our members six continuing education clock hours toward earning or recertifying for the CMP.

So what is the difference between certification, accreditation, and designation?  Certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of an object, person, or organization. This confirmation is often, but not always, provided by some form of external review, education, assessment, or audit. Accreditation is a specific organization's process of certification.  Designation refers to a name or title that identifies someone or something.

The most widely recognized certification in the hospitality and meeting planning industry is the CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) and in the DMC industry, it is the DMCP (Destination Management Certified Professional).

If you are considering a rewarding career in the hospitality industry, think immediately about continuing your education beyond college and becoming specialized. The value of belonging to industry organizations is endless.  Below is a quick list of hospitality industry certifications with their corresponding organizations that you may find useful as you begin your search or next step in an industry I hold dear to my heart.

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)

Convention Industry Council 


Today, the CMP credential is recognized globally as the badge of excellence in the meeting, convention, exhibition, and event industry. The qualifications for certification are based on professional experience, education, and a rigorous exam. (Source:  CIC website)

Destination Meeting Certified Professional (DMCP)

Association of Destination Management Executives International – (ADMEI)


Destination Management professionals who earn their Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP) designation demonstrate the highest level of knowledge and commitment to the destination management profession. To earn the DMCP designation, an individual must have years of experience in the field, active involvement in continuing education programs and have passed an exam that covers the body of knowledge of all aspects of destination management. This certification is good for five years; recertification requires continuing demonstration of active involvement in the destination management community and continuing education in all aspects of destination management.  (Source:  ADMEI website)

CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist)

SITE (Society for Incentive Travel Excellence)


An entry level certification for on motivational experiences and motivational travel.  (Source:  SITE Global website)

CMM (Certified Meeting Manager)

Meeting Professionals International (MPI)


Check the MPI website to learn how to earn clock hours for your CMP.

The Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) Program delivers one global standard of excellence that will bolster your business management skills and advance your career. (Source:  MPI website)

CASE (Certified Association Sales Executive) 

Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)


Check the PCMA website to learn how to earn clock hours for your CMP.

The Certified Association Sales Executive online course is an interactive, self-paced, certificate course that fills your knowledge gaps, builds your business acumen and teaches you how to become an association mastermind. Discover how to anticipate the needs of your clients and be perceived as a partner, not just a vendor. (Source:  PCMA website)

CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional)

International Live Events Association (ILEA)


Established in 1993, the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP) ® designation recognizes event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to plan and execute all components of a special event.  The special events industry has experienced phenomenal growth, is more challenging than ever and requires an increasing level of professionalism. The CSEP designation sets professionals apart from the competition and indicates expertise in the preparation and execution of successful special events. (Source:  ILEA  website)

CPCE (Certified Professional in Catering and Events)

National Association for Catering and Events (NACE)


Making a commitment to the catering and events profession means making your mark. By becoming a Certified Professional in Catering and Events you are elevating your credibility in the hospitality industry and increasing your marketability for career advancement. (Source:  NACE website)

CAE (Certified Association Executive)

American Society of Association Executives  (ASAE)


The Certified Association Executive (CAE) program is designed to elevate professional standards, enhance individual performance, and designate association professionals who demonstrate the knowledge essential to manage an association in today’s challenging environment. (Source:  ASAE website)


CRME (Certified Revenue Management Executive)

Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)


HSMAI introduced certification for hotel sales professionals nearly thirty years ago. Today HSMAI offers training and certification in several disciplines, including sales, revenue management, business acumen, and the newest, digital marketing. (Source:  HSMAI.org)

CGMP (Certified Government Meeting Planner)

Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP)


The Certified Government Meeting Professional designation ("CGMP") is designed for planners and suppliers whose work is governed by the rules and regulations of the federal government. Individuals who have earned their CGMP have obtained the highest designation available that is specifically for government meeting professionals. (Source:  SGMP website)






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