Throughout my career, I have had to learn how to use many software applications and programs. While representing clients at public relations firms, I had to quickly work around media databases such as Cision, Vocus, and Meltwater. A large portion of my time at a technical education company that specialized in Microsoft SQL Server was spent understanding queries and even writing T-SQL statements, just so I could better speak with our instructors. I was thankful for the training courses and experts who were able to show me the ropes, allowing me to do my job well.

When I came to Simpleview in 2012, I noticed that our clients spoke a language I hadn’t experienced – one based around the meetings and hospitality industry. Never before had I thought of a hotel as a “member” or “partner.” I didn’t really know how meeting planners selected a destination for their convention or event.

However, I also realized I was not alone. Many people who take a position in the tourism industry have never worked in it prior. They bring experience in marketing, sales, and software development, but have little knowledge of FAM (familiarization) trips or bed taxes. And with that, I realized there was an opportunity to help build an educational foundation around the destination marketing field and the software that helps manage it.

Luckily, others saw this same need, including Ryan George, Simpleview’s CEO, and many of our user group members. Over the past few years, my team in the Product Education division and I have developed the Brainery by Simpleview. It is the first learning management system with instructional material that bridges the gap between software and travel industry knowledge. With it, tourism professionals can earn certifications in their job roles and even obtain a mastery level in multiple disciplines, such as membership/partnership relations and leisure visitor services. I’m proud to say that some amazing people have invested hundreds of hours into this effort, making it a leading educational tool for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and its staff members.

With that said, I wanted to share some of the reasons why I think the Brainery is important, and specifically why I am so passionate about this project.

Showing Your Professional Value

Many of those who work for DMOs and have the Simpleview CRM invest much of their day managing data. They can easily breeze between user groups, helping distribute meeting sales leads to their partners and updating leisure travel events on their websites like a boss. However, it is hard to quantify this proficiency. With certification, one can sum their years of knowledge and prove their skills are up-to-date. This can put those professionals in line for future promotions (and raises!) at their current organizations.

Earning certification also positions people for progression outside of their current job. If a future employer can easily see if somebody is qualified for a post and can shorten a learning curve with their software systems, it is a wise investment for everybody involved.

In fact, many DMOs are starting to list qualifications with tourism industry software like the Simpleview CRM and CMS on their job listings, including Experience Bryan College Station and Destination DC. If a job candidate had certification – an unbiased barometer of skills – to prove that knowledge, the hiring process for those employers would be smoother.

Staying Up-To-Date

After college, it can be hard to keep expanding your knowledge that is applicable in the workplace. And those who earned their BA, BS, or MBA years ago may find their knowledge base of information could use an update, or a refresher. Certification provides that opportunity.

And while higher education can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in some circumstances, certification proves to be fairly inexpensive, in comparison, for its return on investment. Many software companies, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, and now Simpleview, offer students a way to keep their expertise current and up-to-date for a fraction of those original college courses (not to mention the exorbitant cost of books!).

Time and effort in a DMO will often help you move up the ranks. But taking the time to earn education outside of the workplace is a great way to differentiate from peers and make an impression on management, especially if the certification is not required. This, in turn, raises the bar for everybody at that organization, which can change the long-term culture for the better.

The leadership at Simpleview believes in this concept wholeheartedly. That’s why everybody at the company receives a yearly allowance to use toward personal education. Through these funds, I was able to attend international public relations and content marketing conferences, as well as earn certifications from the Association of Talent Development (ATD) and the Human Capital Institute (HCI). I’m so thankful for these experiences. I am also hopeful that DMO leaders decide to make a similar investment in their people with the Brainery, focusing on keeping their knowledge updated and implementing forward-thinking decisions.

Joining the Ranks

The benefits of attending an acclaimed university don’t stop at the amazing instruction and professors. Benefits also come in the form of networking and building a group of friends who are going through similar experiences. Many companies have titles for those who have reached the upper echelon of training, but also have created communities that continue to foster learning. As the Brainery program grows, we hope to see those with Mentor and Master titles come together to help further educate each other in peer-to-peer sessions.

We have lots of ideas on how we can help promote these interactions, which we plan to reveal at the 2018 Simpleview Summit. But being able to find like-minded peers with similar knowledge levels through shared titles and certifications is certainly a first step.

Personal Satisfaction

To quote Ben Franklin, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” I agree with him. Getting an A in a class felt so good to me. I remember feeling like the hours spent studying and analyzing material paid off. There is a true satisfaction from seeing the culmination of hard work rewarded with a certificate that essentially makes you more valuable and marketable to current and future employers. It can also note you as a hard working and well-rounded person. Personal happiness and growth are very hard to quantify, yet are truly priceless aspects of life, and I feel they also come into play upon expanding knowledge and having a tangible acknowledgement to show for it.

I personally encourage you to pursue certification, whether at the Brainery by Simpleview or through other opportunities. Regardless of the reasoning that drives you, education is a beautiful opportunity of life, and I hope you take the chance to learn as much as you can.

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author.