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.”


New ESPA Event Servicing Certification Debuts

Meeting professionals rely heavily on the event servicing teams behind the scenes to execute on the best-laid plans for effective meetings. To ensure that those support networks are skilled in current best practices, a new Event Service Professional Certification (ESPC) from Event Service Professionals
Association (ESPA) will help everyone sleep easier at night.

“The new ESPC certification for the often-overlooked profession of event servicing is historic on many levels,” said Paola Bowman, CMP, CMM, who serves as president of ESPA and director of client services and events at Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau in Texas.

Read More at Smart Meetings.

ESPA Launches Event Service Professional Certification

ESPA, the Event Service Professionals Association, has launched a new certification for event service professionals who work as meeting and event planners’ main on-the-ground liaison with convention and visitors bureaus, convention centers, hotels and other event venues.

The new ESPA certification, called the Event Service Professional Certification (ESPC), was developed to provide credibility, instill confidence and help solidify strong working relationships by providing a way for event service professionals to demonstrate they have the skills and talents they need to be effective in their role as the main face of the venue when partnering with meeting and event planners.

Read More at Prevue Meetings.

Hispanic Heritage Adds Cultural Flair to Meetings

National Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for meeting professionals to recognize how the diverse backgrounds of hospitality workers has added a richness in the breadth and level of service that can be offered at events.

We asked Paola Bowman, CMP, CMM, director of client services and events with Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, president of Event Service Professionals Association (ESPA) and a 2018 Smart Women in
Meetingsheadshot of paola bowman Award winner, to share her perspective as a native Mexican who grew up in the hospitality industry. As a newly naturalized U.S. citizen, she is enthusiastic about the benefits of living and working in an industry that is a melting pot of backgrounds.

Read More at Smart Meetings.

Learn COVID-19 Protocol Best Practices Gleaned from ESPA’s Annual Conference

When it comes to executing a robust COVID-19 health and safety protocol regimen for an in-person meeting, what better group model than the annual meeting for the association that represents convention and event service professionals?

ESPA, the Event Service Professionals Association, held its 2022 Annual Conference January 21-23 in Kansas City, Missouri, after a two-year pandemic hiatus, and organizers knew that even though the gathering was relatively small, the fact that its members were on the front lines of communication and facilitation between meeting and event planners and facilities meant that the conference would be a protocol laboratory of sorts as the industry awakens.

Read More at Meetings Today.

Need a Meeting Planning Stress-Buster? Tap Into an Event Service Prof

Tina Lynn Mercardo knows how to reduce stress on the job.

As a meeting planner for NAFA Fleet Management Association, she makes sure to leverage the expertise of an event service professional, or CSM (convention service manager), from the planning stages all the way to the event.

“I was less stressed every step of the way,” said Mercardo, about teaming up with a few event service professionals for a recent national conference in late August.

Event service professionals, who work at a hotel venue, convention center or CVB/DMO, may work quietly behind the scenes, but they can dramatically impact the outcome of an event. This has created a symbiotic relationship between meeting planners and service professionals.

Read More at Meetings Today.