At the end of 2015 Croatia received the first national certification programme for the professional meetings industry – the CCMEP (Certified Croatian Meetings and Events Professional).

[pullquote]The Croatian Meeting Professional Association (CMPA) presented the CCMEP (Certified Croatian Meetings and Events Professional) certification programme during last year’s Forum of meetings industry in December 2015.[/pullquote]

Certification of professionals in the congress industry is nothing new. The world’s most famous – CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) and CMM (Certified Meeting Manager) – are very demanding and can bring certain benefits if you are oriented to the international market. In Croatia, no individual has these certificates, while some members of the industry hold the title CDMP (Certified Meeting Planner Diversity), for which they were trained by Linda Pereira. At the end of last year Croatia finally received the first national certification program.

This programme is the result of several international programmes, including those from neighbouring countries, the USA, Poland and the United Kingdom, but adapted to the conditions of the Croatian market and business objectives of domestic professionals. A working group worked for over a year on the programme and the CCMEP title is granted only to natural persons, the participants of the MICE industry, with a minimum of two years’ experience and after completing lectures and passing the exam.

ranko, filipović. CMPA, vice president

“The certification brings additional competitiveness and ensures customers that their service provider is a professional who approaches each project in accordance with the rules of professional conduct,” said Ranko Filipović, Vice President of the CMPA. “The certification programme has also been recognized and accepted by the public sector, of which we have full support. The Association is conducting several public relations activities which will reveal another special quality of the future certificate, and each member will have the possibility to individually capitalize from the ownership of the certificate, primarily from delivering a professional service, excellent business activities and exclusive direct marketing communications.”

After the presentation, the first 39 certificates were granted to members of the Croatian Meeting Professionals Association (CMPA) who completed the certification programme in late January 2016. The programme encompassed two sections: the first focused on the organisation of business meetings, the second focused on market recognition of Croatia as a business tourism destination, followed by group work that resulted in oral presentations and was rounded off by an online exam. The Zagreb Faculty of Economics (Tourism Department),Croatian Chamber of Commerce (Tourism Department) and European Federation of Associations of PCOs – EFAPCO – have supported this project. Since CMPA is its Preferred Provider, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) has credited the programme with 8 CE Hours points. Collecting these points is one of the steps towards gaining CMP certification. CCMEP certificate is valid for five years, after which re-certification is required on the basis of collected educational points and participation in educational events organised by CMP. The next round of certification will be held in December 2016 and January 2017. For more information please visit www.cmpa.eu.

Impressions of Certified Members

Anja Novak, head of sales at Dubrovnik DMC agency Idea Exclusive, is proud to receive the certificate, which she regards as a confirmation of their professionalism in dealing with customers and an encouragement for further improvements. “I am proud to have participated at the first certification programme and to have become one of the first certified professionals in the Croatian meetings industry. The certification programme that I attended was a great opportunity for quality teamwork, sharing experiences with colleagues from different agencies, hotels and other business tourism related branches. The programme was a representative example of how synergy provides significant benefits in realizing a certain programme. For me this certificate implies an advantage – it provides additional assurance to our future clients, in terms of delivering professional services, and represents the first step and important impetus for further improvements and taking the path of obtaining another international CMP certification. “

Director of the Tourist Board of Split, Alijana Vuksic, pointed out that congress tourism is the future of the whole year’s tourist offer of the city of Split. “Split has proven experiences in congress tourism mainly through organising numerous seminars, symposia, conferences and scientific conferences throughout the year. Split annually hosts a number of senior management business meetings organised by several regional companies. Over the years it has established itself as an attractive destination for organising incentive trips and team building workshops. Split has all the necessary conditions to become a distinctive congress centre. After receiving the CCMEP certificate the city gained additional competitiveness and ensures customers that Split offers not only professional superstructure, but also the services of professionals who approach each project in accordance with the rules of the profession. We hope that the number of congress professionals will grow, since it will represent one of the strong arguments for attracting potential investors to fund congress capacities, since unfortunately Split doesn’t have enough of them at the moment.”

Another of the certified members is Māra Vītols-Hrgetić, Head of the congress centre Forum Zagreb. As the Forum already provides a full congress offer and alongside renting the hall it offers catering services and consultancy in organising business events, the company is in fact registered as a travel agency. Māra considers such a professional certificate as a very useful recognition on two different levels. It acknowledges her professional work and the work of the congress centre in general. “During the process of certification I gained a more detailed insight into the general Croatian congress offer, I met with other members of the profession, and I learned a lot about other destinations and accommodation capacities in Croatia and the structure of congress tourism around the world. I got an insight into the professional terminology and international practices that can be helpful to us in our daily operations. For example, “run on the house” is the term used when a client wants to rent the hall every day at the same time for a longer period of time, but the facility retains the right to not always be obliged to offer the same hall. This greatly facilitates our work, because you cannot always have the same hall available. Another world practice example is when a customer does not want (or need) a catering space in which the event is held, the congress centre or the hotel can charge the client for this specific request.” Mara Vītols-Hrgetić also pointed out that the knowledge she acquired during the programme will help her in providing an even better offer and advice for event organisation. She was mainly impressed by the great collegiality among all the members and a willingness to work together to improve the entire Croatian congress offer.

A long-time meetings industry addict, Gorazd is the Founder and owner of marketing and event agency Toleranca Marketing. He has many years of experience in planning, preparing and carrying out large international meetings and exhibitions. As the founder of the "Power to the Meetings" methodology, he still firmly believes in the power of live events and human to human communication. He is also the author of numerous articles and editor-in-chief of the meetings industry magazine Kongres Magazine.