It's been more than a year since Marriott International announced it was cutting third-party commissions from 10 to 7 percent, and in that time a new meeting planner community called Meeting Planners Unite was created to fight the move. That association has now become the Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals, still aiming to lobby the industry on behalf of these small businesses.
Marking the changes that have occurred over the past year, the group's organizers now are looking to celebrate chain and independent hotel partners, and their ownership teams, that have continued to keep commissions at 10 percent or higher, and to work with convention and visitor bureaus and other suppliers that have developed strategies to help independent planners.
Looking to up its influence in the industry, AIMP, currently 1,500 members strong, is collecting sales information to help define where independent planners are moving their market share. The organization was formed by David Bruce, managing director of CMP Meeting Services, who has owned his own third-party business 32 years. He continues as founder and executive director of the AIMP.
In announcing the name change, AIMP outlined areas where the association plans to work for its members:
1. AIMP will continue lobbying efforts to the industry on any issues that affect the membership. These areas include commission issues, understanding the importance of the independent meeting professional, understanding the association's importance as it pertains to other branded third-party companies, and developing programs designed specifically for the association as it relates to the hotel companies, independent hotels and hotel management firms.
2. The group offers programs to help independent businesses and is working on developing more. Some of the services already available to members are a health-care program, discounts on office products, registration and site-sourcing services, and shipping services for conference and office mailings. The organization also is working to provide a wireless-services discount program, and legal and CPA services.
3. An annual conference will be scheduled, bringing in only those suppliers who are members and invited by planners.
4. AIMP plans to host fam trips for its members to member hotels, cities or countries.
5. An Association of Independent Meeting Professionals charity will be developed to help the planner members who have emergencies that impede their ability to focus on their businesses. The charity will offer both loans and gifts according to the needs of the member.