Training programs are upping the event planning standard. In recent weeks, two event professional organizations have launched certification programs and internet-based classes designed with the goal of making event profs better at what they do.

GDP University

Global DMC Partners (GDP), the network of independently owned destination management companies, launched GDP University. The free program touches on topics, in the form of webinars, from the basics of meeting planning to more complex topics, such as event technology and sustainability.

“With so much young talent entering our industry, we wanted to create an easy and free way for our clients to train new team members and to provide continuing education for more experienced planners,” said GDP President and CEO Catherine Chaulet in a press release. “Program participants can select and attend only the courses that matter to them and their specific role in their organization. However, registering provides all access to webinars, on-demand videos, downloadable documents and much more.”

Another reason for the introduction of these classes is the shift in workload that resulted from Covid, which has placed a lot of new pressure on event profs. “Everything has changed drastically in our industry in the post-Covid world and the way of doing business in general is shifting,” Chaulet says. “Planning teams are hiring new staff to rebuild their departments after downsizing during Covid, and they don’t have time to train new hires at a time when the demand for in-person events is so high and workloads are packed. Planners have also taken on new roles and are eager for more education to help them take on new tasks and responsibilities.”

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The first GDP University webinar, Planning 101 in Today’s Reality (Part I), took place Oct. 4, which covered the basics of the event life cycle, from creating the event and RFP templating to contracting and asking suppliers the right questions.

The course’s second part will be held Oct. 25 at 11 a.m. EST and will cover the intricacies of the contracting phase to managing a live event. Planners who participate in these webinars will earn CE credits.

More webinars and resources are to be uploaded to the platform monthly, with the exception of major holidays.

Event Service Professionals Association’s Certification

Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) released a certification program that focuses on event service professionals at convention centers, hotels, CVBs and other venues.

The Event Service Professional Certification (ESPC) is designed equip these professionals with the knowledge and expertise to aid event planners as they take on all different sectors of and challenging in the planning world, like increased use of hybrid events, team-building opportunities, safety for attendees and labor shortages.

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“As event servicing professionals, we are accustomed to being part of the solution, which is why our association decided to invest in the profession when it needs us most,” said Paola Bowman, ESPA president and director of client services and events for Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau in Texas. “Our ESPC sets a new standard that elevates the profession, which is needed today more than ever.”

The Certification Process

ESPC prospects have two options for entering: Take the 13-lesson, three-hour Event Service Professional Foundational Training Program or obtain a waiver to bypass training.

To be waived, candidates must show at least 10 years of event service experience and comprehension of work in convention centers, hotels and CVBs. Twenty hours of continuing education focused on event servicing topics over three years is also required for either.

To earn the ESPC, applicants must submit a “challenge area” topic, in which they will develop and describe a hypothetical or real-world situation an event service professional may encounter in different sectors of event planning, for example, risk management or sustainability.

After approval of the topic by the review board, prospects must then provide a minimum 1,000-word solution with five cited sources. Service professionals with ESPCs will have the certification for five years, after which recertification is required.