The concept of professionalising the industry is one that has been thrown around for years. And recently there has been a drive to create a more formal career path, particularly within the business events industry.
However, when it comes to event organisers, the barrier to entry remains low. Anyone can decide to be an event organiser, and this can prove challenging to our industry. Those who are not up to scratch can bring down service levels and standards, which in turn affects the reputation of our industry as a whole.
We feel that there should be a professional standard specific to event organisers and a proper career path. The Events Industry Council (EIC) certifies through an internationally-recognised certification programme that evaluates the competency of meeting professionals, called the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP). Currently there are more than 11 000 meeting professionals in 55 countries who hold this designation that represents standards of excellence in the meetings, conventions and exhibitions industry. We wish to create the same professional career path locally.
In addition, we want to encourage internships and ground floor training. SAACI currently offers formalised internship and mentorship programmes that focus on all aspects of the business events industry. We are in a very unique situation, as we have double the amount of mentors versus mentees. Our mentors all have vast experiences, such as the CEOs of major hotel groups, and are ready and willing to help those who are entering into the business events industry. The idea is to encourage those studying hospitality, tourism or toward any related field to undergo internships and learn the industry from the ground up. This is a fantastic career with many opportunities for growth and development.
This is a double focus for us as an organisation this year. The Internship programme helps tertiary education students get a foot in the door. We link them up with appropriate intern hosts. This provides them the platform for them to prove their worth in the industry. The Mentorship programme focuses on those who are already in the industry, such as event organisers, who need additional training and assistance to improve their current skill set. Again, we link them with suitable mentors who can guide them on best practices within the hospitality and events industry.
By professionalising our industry, we change the perception of this industry and that this is not just a stop-gap job, but rather a long and fruitful career with growth opportunities. We believe the internship and mentorship programmes are the first step in the right direction to strengthen and protect the industry we love. Our aim is to ensure that we all offer the highest levels of service and improve the standards of this industry. Together we can make this industry great.
Source: Rudi Van der Vyver, SAACI CEO