Smart Business: Hire A Meeting Professional With A CMP

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

When looking for a contractor to handle your kitchen remodel, you’ll look for one that’s licensed and bonded, right?

If you need tax advice, doesn’t a CPA always stand out among other professionals?

Of course. But why?

Because people, in business and in life, place value on the education and standards that come along with a credential, license or designation.

We know that the person who pursues such a designation values what they do as much as how they do it. And we appreciate the efforts they put forth in obtaining that extra education.

Many industries provide it’s professionals with certified designations. The meeting, convention, exhibition and events industry is no different.

One of the most prestigious and globally recognized designations in this industry is the CMP – Certified Meeting Professional, as awarded by the Convention Industry Council (CIC).

What is a CMP?

According to the CIC website, the CMP designation was formed in 1985 to:

-Enhance the knowledge and performance of meeting professionals,

-Promote the status and credibility of the meeting profession, and

-Advance uniform standards of practice.

CMP Certificate - Missy JohnsonFirst, a meeting professional must meet very specific criteria to qualify to sit for a rigorous examination – professional work experience, education and membership/volunteerism within a professional industry related organization.

Second, a meeting professional must study for the exam using several recommended tools – the CMP International Standards (written and updated by current CMP’s), the Convention Industry Council Manual, the Professional Meetings Management Book and the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Glossary.

Finally, after application approval and a study period for the exam is complete, a meeting professional is ready to take the CMP examination. Once passed and awarded the designation, a CMP is required to maintain and update their credentialing every 5 years.

Why is it important to work with a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)?

When you work with a CMP, you’re working with someone who has a comprehensive knowledge of the meetings management industry, understands and honors industry standards, practices and ethics, and values continuing education in their field.

With over 10,000 CMP’s in over 55 countries, it’s not hard to see why so many meeting professionals have made this designation a priority in their professional development.

A Certified Meeting Professional is someone who holds a specific recognition among their peers for knowledge, skill and experience while also adding credibility and commitment to their profession.

The bottom line? It’s just smart business to have a CMP on your side when planning your most important face-to-face meetings and events.

3 Critical Lessons I Learned From My Audio Visual Partner

Missy Johnson, CMPThis business isn’t easy. To pull off large scale meetings and events, meeting professionals must have trusted partners. We have the vision and mission in mind, but we simply can’t execute alone.

One of the largest and most important elements of a successful meeting is the audio-visual production.

Over 10 years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting a young, like-minded, energetic Audio Visual (AV) sales professional while I was still learning the nuances of meeting planning.

Since then, Travis Salsig, Senior Sales Manager-Global Sales for PSAV, and I have created the production for countless meetings and events and have formed an invaluable partnership and friendship. And now I want to share the three critical lessons I learned from working with him:

Partnership = ROI.

The most important lesson I learned from working with Travis is that it’s important to form a lasting partnership for audio-visual services with someone. Tremendous value comes from repetition with one vendor and volume purchasing can save thousands and thousands of dollars over time.

Travis Salsig

Travis Salsig

Having one key partner understand all the ins-and-outs of your meeting, and then taking that knowledge to learn from, enhance and build upon after each meeting, is an invaluable asset.

The more work we did together, the more money I saved my organizations. The ROI just kept coming and coming.

Understand The Power Of Trust.

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about the technical aspects of audio visual elements or how they work. But I don’t have to.

Over the years, Travis taught me to trust him (and earned that trust with consistently excellent execution and the highest level of service) and his team’s expertise.

As a meeting professional, I learned to talk to Travis about my vision of what I wanted the production to look and feel like, and then his team would translate that into action.

There is literally no way I could’ve known exactly what pieces of equipment I should order to make those productions come to life, but I trusted Travis to know and to help me learn along the way.

Knowledge Is Power.

In trusting Travis and his team to do their job of crafting all the necessary production elements, I learned that I needed some knowledge of what was necessary to execute our AV vision….and why we needed to spend the money to make it work.

So, and especially in the early days of working together, I would ask Travis to walk me through his estimate and help me understand what each piece of equipment did, how the labor technicians fit into the picture, how it all contributed to the overall aspects of the production, and why he thought we should use it.

I needed to understand what we were buying, and why, and be able to explain the basics of it to my leadership team. Having that knowledge not only helped me understand the AV world better, but it also helped our partnership and friendship grow.

Final Thoughts

Going forward, spend time looking around your meetings and events to evaluate your partnership and understand if they are truly benefiting you and your organization. If not, it may be time to find someone who is willing to invest the time to help you.

It worked for me. Thank you, Travis.

Meeting Planning 101: Focus On These 5 Fundamentals

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Have you ever observed a co-worker or colleague who seems to always be stretching into territory they don’t need to be in?

Maybe you’ve even seen this in yourself…that desire to always do more than what’s required even when it’s not your area of expertise.

As meeting and event professionals, we often make things harder on ourselves by trying to be everything, to everyone, all the time.

When I find myself feeling stressed or anxious about a project, I make a list of to-do’s and then prioritize them. The simple act of writing things down and getting them out of my head always helps relieve the pressure.

Once my list is complete, I almost always realize that the stress is really coming from tasks that I put on myself that have little-to-no urgency. Or even worse, the tasks aren’t things that are relevant to my job or critical to the overall project goals.

Skip the anxiety and stress by focusing on these five fundamentals of meeting and event planning:

1. Get Comfortable With Contracts.

I read and/or negotiate at least one contract every day. The amount of time meeting professionals spend touching contracts for venues, hotels, caterers, production partners, etc. makes it imperative to have comfort negotiating and understanding these legal documents.

Brush up on your knowledge by asking your in-house counsel to explain what you don’t understand or ask a colleague who is savvy to educate you.

To Do List2. Know Your Audience.

If you don’t know your audience inside and out, then how do you expect your meeting and event partners to react and adapt to their needs during the event?

It’s our job to understand that a room full of male-dominated-affluent-Baby-Boomers is going to expect an entirely different experience than a mostly-female-multilingual-Millennial audience.

Meeting professionals need to champion their audience and communicate their wants, needs and expectations to all partners involved.

3. Partner With Vendors Who Share Your Passion.

A meeting vendor who understands your passion (and shares a similar passion relative to their product or service) will take your meeting or event to another level.

Sometimes its hard to identify as you work with prospective vendors. I’ve learned that I just know it when I see it. You can’t fake passion.

4. Work On Adaptive Communication Styles.

As meeting professionals we must wear many hats. We need to be able to effectively communicate with our CEO’s as well as we do with hotel banquet or bell staff.

Understanding that the way you deliver your messages to different groups will help you (and them) be much more effective.

5. Trust Your Gut.

When it comes down to saving a few bucks to work with a less experienced vendor or spending a little more to get a trusted pro on your side, money shouldn’t always be the driver.

Learning to trust your instincts with any tough decision will also help you consistently take the ethical high road.

In the end, focusing on fundamental meeting and event planning strategies will drive you and your projects in the right direction while also relieving stress and anxiety where you don’t need it…in the middle of your meeting planning projects!

I’ve Got A Few Questions

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

I’ve always been somewhat surprised when C-level executives seem annoyed with me upon our first discussion about a new meeting they want to have involving employees or customers.

I come to these meetings armed with 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, a passion for my profession, a strong desire to help, and yes, a LOT of questions.

Most C-level executives have short attention spans and are always pressed for time, so it’s not hard to see why they may be annoyed when I pepper them with questions.

But here’s the thing….I don’t do it to annoy them. I do it so I can do my job.

I ask a lot of questions at the beginning of a new meeting planning project to ensure that the mission and vision of the organization tie in with the goals of the meeting and the logistical details.

QuestionPlanning face-to-face meetings without a vision of what success looks like after it’s done is pointless.

And, to get there, you have to ask a lot of questions. Sometimes leadership doesn’t even know the answers to the questions I ask. In most cases, they haven’t taken the time to think about what the overall goals of the meeting should be or what outcomes they want attendees to walk away with.

Hence, the question game continues. From the largest goal to the smallest detail…it all has to have a decision process. It’s not just about what type of food you want served at lunch or how you want your general session room to be set-up. It’s sooooo much more than that.

Of course we have to answer the questions about logistical details. But more importantly, we must first ask those big picture questions about what our clients want the experience to be like for their attendees.

In the end, every great meeting starts with an inquisitive meeting planner and an engaged executive and/or client team.

Any questions?

Thank you for taking the time to read and share this post. Have other topics you’d like me to consider? Share them in the Comments section below or email me at

Meeting Planning 101: Stop Asking Plumbers For Life Insurance

Missy Johnson, CMPPost written by Missy Johnson, Principal, MJMeetings, LLC | Meetings Consultant | Gourmet Food & Wine Enthusiast | Sports Fan

Would you ask a plumber for help with your life insurance?

What about a financial advisor with your auto repairs?

How about a race car driver with your child’s education?

Unless you’re just a really bad decision maker, of course you wouldn’t!

This is exactly why you shouldn’t make the same mistake that companies all across the world do every single day. What is that mistake? Let me explain…

Putting the mission, vision and execution of their meetings in the hands of people (administrative assistants, managers, sales professionals, etc.) who often aren’t qualified (not to mention they have full-time jobs that they were hired to do in the first place) instead of utilizing an experienced meeting and event professional.

A company’s mission and vision is what a meeting professional really focuses on…creating an environment where your organizational goals align with deliverable objectives for a specific set of attendees – all in a face-to-face environment. It’s our job to bring the big picture perspective while at the same time having the vision to tie all the details back together in alignment with that big picture.

plumbingIt’s our job to understand WHAT you want to achieve, WHY you need to achieve it, and then make decisions about HOW each and every detail of a meeting can deliver on those objectives.

Some people wrongly view meeting and event professionals as “party planners” and are both shortsighted and uneducated about the skills that experienced meeting professionals have. Of course we know how to order floral arrangements, event decor and bar packages, but we also bring a very specific skillset that “employee planners” typically don’t possess.

This includes things like knowing how to have powerful negotiations with every single meeting vendor (hotels, audio/visual companies, etc.), strategic decision making about budget spending, and a deep understanding of how our industry operates and how organizations can more effectively operate within it.

Most professionals in any industry have honed their skills through education, training and years of practical experience. A professional meeting and event planner is no different.

Working with a meeting professional who has specialized education, a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, and years of experience planning all different types of meetings and events will give your company a better understanding of what effective, mission-driven, face-to-face meeting and events can do to improve your bottom line.

It not only makes sense….it’s smart business.

To learn more about how your business can start having smarter meetings, contact me today at 913-645-6649 or