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latest issue

Latest Issue

Level Up

Level Up

by Melaya Horsten

Designations are a great way to showcase your industry expertise to new clients and potential employers. And what better time to level up than now?

Industry associations are working hard to make it easier for you to obtain a designation in your chosen field, some offering financial aid, others now offering it online!

Here’s a round-up of the opportunities, as well as some insight from industry pros on why they achieved their designation.

CDME (Certified Destination Management Executive)

Offered by Destinations International, this designation is intended for senior executives who want to advance their careers. It blends theory with experience and knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment.

What it takes: Complete four core courses, two elective courses, prepare a written paper and take a final exam within a four-year time period.

Cost: Core Courses $1,475 US (members); $2,215 US (non-members)


CIS (Certified Incentive Specialist)

Offered by the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), the CIS designation is designed for those new to the industry who are looking to specialize in incentives.

What it takes: Attend a two-day seminar or complete CIS Online, and complete an exam

Cost: $345 US (online); $750 US (in person)


CITP (Certified Incentive Travel Professional)

This designation is also offered by SITE, for those who have current, direct, hands-on involvement in the major processes associated with incentive travel sales, design, and management. Last week, 12 SITE Canada members wrote their CITP examination in person at the Hilton Toronto!

What it takes: Employment in incentives, minimum 5 years experience, and completed 40 hours professional development in the past 5 years, exam

Cost: Prep course and exam. Currently being offered free to members (normally $495 US)

I believe that industry designations enhance our credibility for our clients, colleagues and partners and show our commitment to continued growth and development.  I was keen to earn my CITP designation because it is specific to the incentive travel industry, which is, in many ways, quite different from meeting and event planning.  The focus on the business case for incentive travel and the definition of ROI for incentive travel events and corporate objectives for these programs are what makes these events so unique, among many other things.  As an incentive travel professional, having my CITP conveys that I’ve made the effort to acquire this knowledge and expertise and elevates those of us with the designation in our industry.

— Diane Alexander, CITP, director, operations/account executive, Creative Group


CMP (Certified Meeting Professional)

This designation is offered by the Events Industry Council (EIC) and is recognized as a standard of excellence throughout the global events industry. New as of August 1, 2020, the CMP exam can now be completed online via remote proctoring. Plus, EIC is offering free webinars to help earn CE credits towards your CMP minimum requirements.

What it takes: Minimum number of years in the events industry, as well as acquiring continuing education hours in order to qualify to take the CMP Examination. CMP exam in-person or online (new).

Cost:  $250 US application fee plus $475 US exam fee

EIC is providing relief in the amount of $50 US for the initial application, and $50 US for the certification examination fee for those who have been affected by COVID-19 and are furloughed, have had their position eliminated or are experiencing a salary reduction. Contact to request your relief code.


CMM (Certificate in Meeting Management) 

This designation is offered by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) and involves an intensive, three-phased executive education program. It packs the highlights of a world-class graduate degree program into four days, followed by eight hours of advanced-level online coursework and a final project focused on solving a real-world, work-based problem.

What it takes: Complete three phases as noted above, plus you must have 7 yearrs in the industry, 3 years in management and 2 years of profit and loss responsibility, to apply. Next virtual course will be offered, December 6–10, 2020.

Cost: $4,400 US

The MPI Foundation provides MPI members with professional development opportunities through grants and scholarships. Learn more >


CSEP (Certified Special Events Professional)

This designation was established in 1993 by the International Live Events Association (ILEA) to recognize event professionals who have successfully demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ability essential to perform all components of a special event.

The new CSEP exam debuts October 1-31, 2020. The CSEP Exam has been updated by ILEA International to reflect the state of the art in live event design and production and is remote proctored, allowing candidates to take the exam anywhere in the world with a computer, camera and internet connection. Learn more >

What it takes: Min. 5 years of experience, or min. 3 years experience with letter of recommendation, or a certificate/diploma from a recognized hospitality/events program.

Cost: $350 US application fee, $350 US exam fee

My CSEP designation demonstrates my level of expertise in end-to-end event development, design, and implementation of live events.  Regardless of whether an event is for 10 or 2,000 people, in-person or virtual, the knowledge and experience a CSEP brings to the table is invaluable.  My passion for the designation directed me to develop a workshop to help prepare candidates for the test.  Now with the new test being unveiled, it is an opportunity for me to again be a part of the development of a more robust leaning path towards the designation.  In my role as chair, ILEA CSEP Certification Committee we are exploring ways to offer education programming to assist those on the path to becoming a CSEP. 

— Jody Paulson, CSEP, events, alumni & community engagement, University Relations Division, Athabasca University

Earning my CSEP designation in 2012 has been important to me because it shows that I have a well-rounded and comprehensive understanding of all aspects of a live event. It shows that I take the profession seriously and achieving my CSEP has proven that my hard work and diverse experience in the live events industry translates into valuable, applicable and necessary skills that can be measured through industry accreditation. Now more than ever, in this new and changing landscape of live events, expertise matters.

— Corinne Kessel, CSEP, principal, Greenscape Design & Décor 


DMCP (Destination Management Certified Professional)

This designation is provided by the Association of Destination Management Executives International (ADMEI), offering individuals the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the best practices in destination management.

What it takes: Min. 3 years experience in the field of destination management plus a combination of education and involvement. Apply to take the examination: webinars and study sessions are offered.

Cost: Application fee: $200 US (members), $300 US (non-members); exam fee $400–650 US.

GTP (Global Travel Professional Certification) 

Offered by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), this designation is designed to raise industry standards, enhance work performance and recognize individuals who demonstrate core competencies essential to the business travel management discipline.

GBTA members receive a special discount on their exam fee.

What it takes: 3 years work experience, knowledge of four key areas, complete an exam

Cost: $350 US (GBTA members); $450 US (non-members)

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