JUN 2017

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J U N E 2 0 1 7 ⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 21 GOVERNMENT & UNIVERSITY MEETINGS A key method of keeping up with changing regulations and laws for government and edu- cation meeting planners is through continuing education courses. There are numerous outlets for education, including conferences and fo- rums put on by associations such as the Society of Government Meeting Professionals (SGMP) and the Association of Collegiate Conference and Events Directors-International (ACCED-I). Mastering Best Practices for Government Meetings SGMP is hosting its 2017 National Education Conference & Expo (NEC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., June 6 – 8 at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. "The NEC is the best op- portunity to master important best practices and to earn education contact hours," said former SGMP national president Rob Coffman, CGMP, who said the organization not only expands the expertise of its members but also promotes the cost-effectiveness of government meetings. "It is a critical time for our industry and SGMP is aggressively moving forward to promote the fact that our members' profession- alism benefits citizens and makes our govern- ment more effective." These specific certifications and educational programs help planners stand out from other planners in the field. They also allow planners to gain the expertise and knowledge needed for these specific types of events. For example, SGMP offers the Certified Government Meet- ing Professional certification. It includes both a course and exam with specific instruction in ethics, contracting, travel regulations, risk management and protocol. It is the highest pro- fessional designation available specifically for government meeting professionals, according to SGMP. "For the same reason Congress needs to meet face-to-face, so do others – to develop trust and rapport, to take best advantage of critical education platforms such as confer- ences and conventions, and to capitalize on the proven and irreplaceable benefits of in-person collaboration," said United States Travel As- sociation Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella. Elevating Professional Standards for Educators ACCED-I hosts a national conference as well as Educational Forums that bring together collegiate conference and events professionals for networking and education. The topics range from student management to contracts and ne- gotiations. It also offers the ACCED-I Collegiate Con- ference and Events Professional Certification Program (CCEP) which, according to the as- sociation, "is designed to elevate professional standards, evaluate individual performance" and recognizes "those who have reached achievement in conference and events manage- ment." The certification conveys that a planner has education and achievement among profes- sional peers, increases professional credibility and respect, improves opportunities for better positions and higher wages, and instills client confidence. Tools For Saving Money Beyond certifications and continuing educa- tion, there are other tools available to plan- ners to help them stay on top in the areas of government and educational meetings. One example is the General Services Adminis- tration's numerous money-saving contract vehicles and tools offered to agencies to meet conference needs, including Strategic Meeting Management, a new Travel Services Solutions Schedule 599 that offers agencies a way to source, manage and save on conferences and meetings from a comprehensive perspective. It also offers a Travel MIS Group Travel Plan- ning Tool that helps planners with estimates for the cost and environmental impact of potential conference and meeting sites using information such as destination, number of attendees, flight costs, registration fees and more. Its website,, offers links to these tools. Standing Out From The Competition Another struggle in planning meetings in these areas is competing with tight budgets and the need for attendees to pick and choose which events they can attend. How do you stand out from the crowd and compete for limited funds and time? Patricia Smith, M.A., CGMP, proj- ect manager for BLH Technologies, said that as soon as your meeting ends, prepare to an- nounce the dates and location of the next ► The SGMP hosted its 2017 National Education Conference & Expo The Greater Fort Lauderdale/ Broward County Convention Center

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