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.
“ESPC is the first industry certification made for our profession, which is a frontline role with events that generates return business at locales by helping meeting planners execute exceptional in-person events,” said ESPA President Paola Bowman, who is director of Client Services & Events at the Arlington Convention and Visitors Bureau in Arlington, Texas. “As event servicing professionals, we are accustomed to being part of the solution, which is why our association decided to invest in the profession when it needs us most. Our ESPC sets a new standard that elevates the profession, which is needed today more than ever.”
Candidates can earn the ESPC by taking the Event Service Professional Foundational Training Program. The program, which consists of 13 lessons in on-demand video format, takes about three hours to complete. In addition to providing the background for the ESPC, the program also can be used to earn credits toward obtaining or requalifying for the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) certification. The cost to take the course is $229 for ESPA members and $329 for non-ESPA members. Applicants who go this route can expect their application to be approved within 14 days.
Alternatively, they can get a waiver to bypass the training if they have at least 10 years of professional event service experience and can show that they understand the specific requirements entailed in working in event services at CVBs, convention centers and hotels. They also must be able to demonstrate that they have completed 20 hours of event services-related continuing education over three years. Applicants who wish to get a training waiver request can expect to be notified of their application’s approval within 21 days.
To complete the final requirement for the ESPC, a capstone project, candidates must submit a “Challenge Area” topic to a review board for approval. Among the examples of Challenge Area topics ESPA offers are those that relate events to the local economy, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, customer service and emerging trends. Then the candidate must write a 1,000-word-minimum response to that challenge, including at least five cited sources. The response must include hotel, facility/venue and DMO-related elements. In crafting their solution, candidates should consider showing evidence of the impact of the event service professional to the solution, how all segments collaborate to reach the solution, and describe how various resources and/or relationships contribute to achieving the desired outcome, as well as the outcome itself. While the length of time it takes to complete the process will vary, ESPA estimates that six months is a reasonable timeframe to anticipate. Total cost for the certification is $929 for members who take the Event Services Professional Foundational Training Program; non-members will pay $1,179. For those requesting the waiver, the cost is $850 for members and $1,050 for non-members.
ESPA anticipates that the first class of ESPCs will be recognized in the first half of 2023. Those who receive the ESPC will need to recertify at the end of a five-year period by demonstrating they have earned 20 hours of continuing education in event servicing subject areas. Points can be earned by actively participating in ESPA point-earning programs and activities, including taking on board, committee and task force roles, speaking at industry events, writing articles and organizing National Celebrate Services Week events.
For more information on the new ESPC certification, visit www.espaonline.org.
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