What is the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA)?

Founded in 1956, the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) is the world’s largest largest network of Business Events Strategists, with more than 7,000 members and an audience over 50,000. Headquartered in Chicago, PCMA has partners and collaborators include organizations North America (17 chapters), Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with activities in 37 countries. The PCMA’s mission is threefold:

  • Increase PCMA’s impact on a worldwide audience through a focus on audience needs
  • Lead the industry through innovation, education, events and engagement
  • Develop a sustainable structure to grow membership, audience, and revenue

In addition, the organization also provides a range of services for PCMA members, including curricular standardization for convention management, career development support, training programs, advocacy initiatives, and resources and networking opportunities. Given its size and influence, the PCMA is one of the most important organizations for current and aspiring convention industry workers, including a range of hospitality professions.

How PCMA Helps Hospitality Professionals

When we think about the hospitality industry, we often think about hotels and resorts; we think about vacations. But unfortunately that’s a very narrow definition. Hospitality professionals coordinate major business meetings and conventions. They plan conferences and events, as well as ceremonies and galas. One hospitality sector, event planning, is rapidly becoming one of the largest businesses in the country, accounting for $115 billion in annual US GDP; and the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupations for meeting, convention, and event planners to grow 11% over the next decade – nearly twice the national average – with salaries between $60k and 120k.

Still, event planners aren’t the only hospitality professionals in the event business. Food and beverage managers are involved throughout the planning process, and hotel professionals across the board are responsible for event sales, coordination, execution, and leads targeting. An in-exhaustive list of meeting and event workers might include:

In short, nearly everyone in the hospitality industry is tied to the meetings, conventions, and event planning sector. Which also means nearly everyone in the hospitality industry stands to benefit from the PMCA for financial, educational, and advocacy support. While some of the above roles might fall outside the immediate purview of the PCMA, many business-focused hospitality professionals can leverage the PMCA into networking opportunities, career advancement, and high-level certification.

Become a PCMA Member

PCMA members earn several career benefits:

  • Access to the members-only PCMA community
  • Networking opportunities with convention management leaders
  • Early access to registration for the annual PCMA conference
  • Subscription to Convene, the industry leading magazine
  • Discounts on on all PCMA products, services and events
  • Career growth and professional development through volunteer leadership

Membership payment plans are as follows:

  • Student: $40
  • Faculty: $200
  • Business Event Professional: $360
  • Supplier Event Professional: $485

PCMA Education Initiatives

Many convention management and meeting & event planning degree programs are affiliated with the Professional Convention Management Association and align with the group’s curricular standards. In particular, the PCMA’s Education Foundation, founded in 1985, helps support aspiring meeting & event professionals through scholarships, grants, research, and education. In 2017, the Foundation directed $493,000 to fund industry innovation, nurture professional development, and advance student achievement.

PCMA Online Courses, Certifications, Exam Prep, and Bootcamps

The PCMA offers four main education initiatives online.

Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) Prep

The PCMA is the only entity to offer an officially endorsed study program for the Certified Meeting Professional designation (administered by the Events Industry Council). With more than 11,000 meeting professionals in 55 countries holding a CMP, it’s one of the industry’s most important honors and can significantly increase earnings potential: according to Convene Magazine, event and meeting organizers with a CMP improved their salary by 11%. The PCMA’s study materials include 9 study modules; a progress report; printable outlines; 3 full-length, timed CMP practice exams; mobile access; and – most importantly – 68 clock hours to apply toward your CMP application (70 required).

Business Event Bootcamp

The PCMA’s Business Event Bootcamp is a self-paced online course designed to provide current and aspiring event professionals the latest trends, techniques, and information for successful event planning. Courses include Event Design, Risk & Crisis Management, Digital Events, Generating Revenue from Events, and Event Marketing, which earn you up to 14.5 CMP hours. If you’re a current event planning professional, the PCMA offers corporations and associations the opportunity to complete group sessions. Each module includes a facilitator’s guide for team leaders, including access to hands-on activities, lesson reinforcement plans, and other supplementary content.

Digital Event Strategist (DES) Certification

Sponsored by the PCMA’s Digital Experience Institute, the DES Certification is the industry-leading standard for planning and producing live stream and digital engagement events. Courses are available both live and self-paced, lead by experts from around the world, and cover 10 key areas: Introduction to Digital Events, Strategy, User Experience, Content Strategy, Engagement Strategy, Technology, Revenue Models + Strategies, Production, Marketing, and Post Event + Measurement. Meeting, event, and hospitality professionals with DES certification will, first, open up a range of career opportunities, but also earn peer recognition, professional growth, and improve their skills.

CASE Online Course

PCMA’s Certified Association Sales Executive certification is a 10 module online course, featuring self-paced, interactive lessons that fills knowledge gaps, builds business acumen, and develops sales association skills. Course requirements include Marketplace Strategy and Innovation, Effective and Educational Meetings, Social Trends, Strategic Meetings Management, Sponsorship and Strategic Partnership, and Building Long-Term Business Relationships.

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