CanSPEP update: Promoting professionalism, creating awareness

CanSPEP Founder Joy Fox (right) and CanSPEP President Debbi Arato

CanSPEP Founder Joy Fox (right) and CanSPEP President Debbi Arato

Now in its 16th year, the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners began in 1996 as IMPAC (Independent Meeting Professionals Association of Canada). Its founder and first president, Joy Fox, CMP Emeritus, created the association out of a need to gather independent planning professionals as a strong group of entrepreneurs.

The organization’s first meeting was held at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto where the 24 planners in attendance developed a mission to “promote, support and educate independent meeting and event planners and create public awareness around our profession.”

Just a year later, in October 1997, we held our first conference at Grandview Inn in Huntsville, Ont., and continued on for the next decade under the IMPAC name. In 2007, IMPAC rebranded as CanSPEP.

Today, we are a community of more than 100 event professionals from across Canada who design, manage and implement special events, conferences, galas, incentives, tradeshows, product launches and more in the corporate, association, non-profit and government sectors.

CanSPEP is unique in that all of our members are small planning and consulting businesses, with staff at each business limited to 10 employees. Although suppliers are ineligible for membership, CanSPEP is pleased to have many suppliers as our esteemed partners who collaborate with members on serving member clients.

Current member benefits

As a relatively small association we are able to meet member needs very effectively. Some of the current benefits in place are:

  • Discounts for association meetings and the annual conference
  • Templates to help members provide more effective service to clients
  • An array of required insurance, including medical and liability

CanSPEP recently contracted a company to conduct a member survey and an environmental analysis. From this, a new strategic plan emerged that will lead CanSPEP into the future and help the organization flourish.

“I am dedicated to ensuring that our organization continues to monitor trends and adapt to an ever-changing business climate,” says current president Debbie Arato, CSEP. “Let’s embrace these challenges and opportunities together as we lead Canada’s entrepreneurial event management industry through certification, education and standards.”

What’s in the future for CanSPEP?

  • Certification: A certification process currently being developed by CanSPEP will enable members to better run and manage a small business. We are partnering with communities that deliver programs to the business world. The certification process will be available to members across Canada.
  • Education: Although information on how to plan meetings strategically is available at many other industry associations, what is not currently available is how to manage a successful small business whose product or service is the design, management, implementation and evaluation of events, conferences and tradeshows. CanSPEP education revolves around how to manage a business, how to market, how to sell, how to maintain clients and much more.
  • Annual Conference: Our annual conference goes across Canada. From February 28 to March 2, 2013, Fredericton, N.B. was our host city for three days jam packed with education, celebration and learning.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: CanSPEP has raised several thousand dollars over the years for a variety of charities across Canada. This year, CanSPEP has adopted Starlight Children’s Foundation as its charity for the year.

CanSPEP is on the cusp of great growth. If you are an entrepreneurial event planner in Canada and aren’t on board, perhaps it’s time you joined us. If you are a supplier and aren’t yet a partner of CanSPEP, perhaps it’s time to find out how your organization can work with us to help improve your business.

For more information, visit our website at or contact our office at [email protected],  905-868-8008. Toll-Free: 1-866-467-2299.

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