The 2023 Meetings Trendsetters Blazing Trails in the Events Industry

As the meetings and events industry evolves at a rapid clip, staying up to date with the changes is less daunting when you have trailblazers leading the way. Whether it be through providing resources for ensuring inclusivity, educating colleagues on the importance of accessibility or planning events that push the envelope, it’s because of these individuals that the industry constantly grows. Congratulations to the Meetings Trendsetters class of 2023!

Read More  at Meetings Today.

The Z: Industry Organizations and Associations Offering Student Memberships

College professors don’t stress the importance of real-world experience for nothing.

Until you’ve stepped into the shoes of a professional in the position you hope to have one day, there’s no sure way of knowing whether the career path you’re on is really the one you want to follow.

As students and emerging industry professionals, our biggest task is to learn from those willing to teach and share their industry knowledge with us. That means taking advantage of every educational opportunity that knocks, like the following student membership opportunities within meetings and events industry organizations and associations.

Read More  at Meetings Today.

Event Service Professionals Publish Meetings DEI Guide

The knowledge and duties of event service professionals (ESPs), aka convention service managers, is where the rubber meets the road in the meetings and conventions world. Sales sells the dream and hands the ball off to ESPs, who take it forward to service the meeting, working with meeting and event planners and local venues, vendors and suppliers to make their event dreams a reality.

DEI, or diversity, equity and inclusion, is rapidly becoming an integral part of that dream for meetings, and ESPs hold the key position to ensure events are inclusive and reflective of all communities, from convention center ballrooms and exhibit floors to hotel meeting rooms, offsite venues and activities,
and beyond.

Read More  at Meetings Today.

New DEI Guide for Event Service Professionals

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) has released new standards to help the meetings industry become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

An event service professional is a crucial member of a meeting professional’s onsite team. They work at a hotel, convention center, or CVB and manage an event’s logistics with the meeting planner to efficiently bring it to life. As the primary destination and venue liaison and resource for event planners, they have a unique opportunity to make cultural connections and a meaningful impact on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for incoming groups.

Denise Reid is the ESPA president and event planning manager at the Hyatt Centric French Quarter in New Orleans. She has led this important initiative joined by 14 others ESPA members a year and a half ago. “There were some representing destinations who didn’t know what DEI included or what it means. So they asked to be part of our effort,” said Reid. “The downloadable guide we created is a tool we expect them to use. It’s not just checking a box of actionable items.”

The guide covers three pillars of DEI practices: Education, Inclusive Marketing and Supplier Diversity.

Read More  at Skift Meetings.

Why is DEI Critical to the Hospitality Industry?

Service professionals connect events with diverse community resources

Event Service Professionals are sounding the alarm for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to be recognized as critical threads in the fabric of the services industry with the recent release of the Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) downloadable toolkit Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, a Guide for Event Service Professionals. This resource introduces foundational practices to assist professionals in the hospitality industry who aspire to host successful events welcoming and accepting all stakeholders to feel a sense of genuine inclusiveness. The industry, further, has a duty to promote diversity in the earliest planning of events to reflect the essence of stakeholder touch points.

Read More at Smart Meetings.

New ESPA President Denise Reid on DEI, New Member Acquisition–and a Show-Stopping 'Ave Maria'

In this Meetings Today Podcast, Denise Reid, new president of Event Service Professionals Association, shares how event service professionals are on the front line of ensuring destination DEI for meetings, as well as her plans for ramping up the association following the pandemic upheaval. She also favors
listeners with an amazing rendition of Ave Maria!

Read more and listen on Meetings Today

Black History Month Highlights Rich Legacy of Contributions to Hospitality

ESPA President Jacquelyn Denise Reid on how hospitality can expand the definition of inclusive Celebrating the contributions of more than 13% of the U.S. population to the meetings industry and the world is something that needs to be done year-round. We thought a good way to mark the month would be to ask Jacquelyn Denise Reid, area event planning manager with Hyatt Centric French Quarter Hotel and Eliza Jane Hotel; president of Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and 2022 Smart Women in Meetings Visionary award winner, how she marks designated Black History Month.

Read more on Smart Meetings.

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) Welcomes New President, Board Members

The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) welcomes Denise Reid as its new president at its 2023 annual conference in Pittsburgh. Reid, who is an award-winning event planning manager at Hyatt Centric French Quarter (HCFQ) in New Orleans, will focus on rebuilding the association’s membership to pre-pandemic levels, while ensuring ESPA is an inclusive advocate for all stakeholders in hospitality. Read more at Exhibitor.

ESPA’s Event Servicing Certification Makes History

The new ESPC certification for the often-overlooked profession of event servicing is historic on many levels.

Matt Robinette, CMP, believes the industry certification is about growing the profession. He said professionals who support meetings and events must understand event design, principles of meeting planning, association objectives and business principles.

“The Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) is codifying best practices through robust continuing education programs, which will result in better service to clients, unambiguous internal metrics, and career growth,” said Robinette, who is vice president of Visitor Experience at Richmond Region Tourism. “In addition to the program contributing to better outcomes, the program will build a network of professionals that will work together to craft the future of the industry.”

In a post-pandemic events setting, experienced and credentialed event service professionals are more valuable to meeting planners, who face new audiences in different places through hybrid technology, attendance building challenges, expanded safety needs and city-wide labor shortages.

New Credential Bolsters Profession

Candidates for ESPC have two options to qualify to enter the program: 1) Take the Event Service Professional Foundational Training Program or 2) Obtain a waiver to bypass the training. Candidates can be “waived” if they can demonstrate at least 10 years of professional event service experience and comprehension of event servicing in convention centers, hotels and CVBs. In addition, 20 hours of continuing education, which focuses on event servicing topics, is required over three years.

Once the candidate’s enrollment is approved, they then embark upon a comprehensive capstone project which involves creating an Event Services Challenge scenario, then, once the “Challenge Area” topic has been reviewed and approved by a Review Board, candidates must provide a minimum of a 1,000-word response to the challenge with five cited sources. The solution must include hotel, facility/venue and DMO-related elements as well as describe the outcome. Candidates should consider the following when writing the response:

  • Show evidence of the impact of the Event Service Professional in the outcome of the challenge.
  • Demonstrate collaboration across all segments.
  • Describe resources or relationships involved to achieve the outcome.
  • Describe measurable outcomes or achievements.

The ESPC will be awarded for a five-year period at which time a recertification is required. A list of candidates will be maintained on a list on ESPA’s website.

ESPC Provides Sense of Recognition

Zack Davis, CMP, who is vice president of Destination Services at Louisville Tourism, said the new certification is about recognizing the valuable contributions provided by event service professionals.

“We needed an industry certification that recognized and validated the experience, abilities and skillset of an event service professional,” Zack said. “The certification provides a validation for those looking at the career path of an event service professional. The ESPC adds further legitimacy for not only the roles of those in services, but also for the association. It supports the event service professional’s place in the industry and the importance and relevancy of our profession.”

For Carol Gagnon, CMP, CEM, who is director of Event Operations at Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, the ESPC is about highlighting ESPA as an industry resource. Gagnon was in the industry for two decades before learning about ESPA in 2014 at a PCMA conference.

“ESPC will bring recognition to and reinforce credibility for ESPA as a leading force in the hospitality industry,” Gagnon said. “As event service professionals we represent a far-reaching network of professionals supporting the hospitality industry via our clients, partners, vendors and our own colleagues. Earning the privilege to post the ESPC designation to our name will ignite awareness allowing us to build on that network.”

ESPA’s certification and training—both launched in 2022—offers a professional opportunity for younger, incoming talent, as well as experienced professionals in the event servicing space.

Certification Underscores New Training

ESPA’s curriculum provides foundational training for individuals new to event/convention services—and experienced professionals at convention centers, hotels and CVBs looking to broaden their understanding of event service across segments. Videos are available on-demand, enabling event service professionals to go through the training on their own schedule. A certificate of completion and continuing education credits can be earned by demonstrating participation through a post-training evaluation. The 13-lesson program provides material on servicing unique markets, emerging trends and performance measurements.

ESPC Helps Younger, Experienced Professionals

Robinette said the certification will show younger professionals that there is a future in the industry, outside of their own organization. “Professionals working in the event services industry are on their own when they join a new organization,” said Robinette, who was one of ESPA’s earliest supporters for the certification program. “Each vertical of the industry (Center, Hotel, DMO) trains young professionals in their ‘in-house’ programs which prepares them for the day-to-day work but without industry standards. ESPA created the ESPC to defines these standards and works to provide continuing education to further expand what it means to be an event services professional.”

Davis said the new certification is like a reward for younger event service professionals. “The ESPC provides an incentive for those newer to the industry to complete foundational training programs and expedite their knowledge and experience,” said Davis, who served on the certification task force along with Robinette and Gagnon. “It rewards those who want to grow professionally and adds value to their position within their organization, among their peers and with the meeting and event professionals they work with each day.”

ESPA’s certification also helps seasoned event service professionals. “Our roles are inimitable as we touch multiple facets of the hospitality industry,” Gagnon said. “Earning this certification, geared specifically to the event service professional, will highlight and strengthen our seasoned presence in hospitality—allowing us to build a unique network of like professionals and serve as valuable resources through ESPA.”

The certification program will also provide more seasoned professionals an opportunity to evaluate their growth within the industry, added Robinette. The program will provide experienced event service professionals with structure to train new hires, and the program offers industry leaders the framework to evaluate direct reports’ effectiveness.

“The pandemic demonstrated which units/departments leadership targets first for cuts, for many of our organizations that department was services,” Robinette said. “The ESPC provides industry leaders with some arguments against cutting services first.”