Meeting Planners Unite, the consortium of independent third-party meeting planning companies and suppliers formed to resist the Marriott International commission cuts from the then-industry standard of 10 percent to 7 percent in January 2018, changed its name to Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals (AIMP).

“After a great board meeting at our conference in December [2018], the board and I felt that changing the name and the direction we were heading would take our association to the next level,” said David N. Bruce, founder and executive director of the consortium. “Meeting Planners Unite served its purpose to show chains like Marriott and Hilton that they were and are wrong by destroying the relationships that took 50 years to build.

"Marriott was built on relationships with the client and over the past year they destroyed most of them to at least 50 percent of the industry," he added. "Hilton did much of the same in following Marriott.”

[2018 Year in Review: Independent Planner Commission Cuts]

The commission cuts by Marriott from 10 percent to 7 percent were followed by the same commission rate cuts by Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

AIMP’s Mission and Services for Independent Planners

In a statement, Bruce outlined four “areas of concern” in which AIMP will strive to serve its members:

1. First and foremost, we will keep up the lobbying efforts to the industry on any issues that affect the membership. Lobbying efforts will include but are not limited to:

  • Commission issues.
  • Understanding the importance of the independent meeting professional.
  • Understanding this association's importance vs. the other large sourcing companies (HelmsBriscoe, ConferenceDirect, HPN Global) and Experient (meeting planning firm).
  • Developing programs designed specifically for our association as it relates to the hotel companies and independent hotels along with the representative firms that manage them.

2. To offer different membership products that will help in their development, including discounted products and services that the association can enjoy based on our ability to negotiate in bulk.

Some of the areas we are working on are:

  • Health care program (available currently).
  • Wireless services discount program (working on this program).
  • Legal and CPA services (working on this program).
  • Office products discounts (available currently).
  • Registration and site sourcing services (available currently).
  • Shipping services for both our conferences and for our offices (available currently).

3. Annual conference with only suppliers that are members, and planners invited.

4. AIMP-hosted fam trips for our members to member hotels, cities or countries.

5. The Association of Independent Meeting Professionals charity, which will be available to independent planners who have emergencies that are impeding their ability to focus on their businesses. This charity will offer both loans and gifts according to the needs of the member.

AIMP currently counts 1,500 members in its fold and maintains Facebook and LinkedIn group pages.

[Related Content: Commission Battle: David Bruce vs. the Marriott Goliath]

“The opportunity to change the mindset of the industry starts with this organization,” Bruce said in the statement. “Our goals are to continue to lobby the industry on the issues of the day and make sure that the independent meeting professional and their suppliers [are] recognized for the efforts they give to the industry every day. As part of the membership process, [the Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals] is collecting sales information to help gauge where our planners are moving market share. From that information, we will know the value of our worth to the industry and become the leading voice for the independent planner.”

Support for Independent Meeting Planners

Bruce said the Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals (AIMP) will continue to focus on reaching out to industry suppliers to make its presence and value proposition known.

“Now, with the Alliance of Independent Meeting Professionals, we are going to support, celebrate and endorse the hotels, both chain and independent, by promoting them any way our association can,” Bruce said. “With the CVBs, we are going to reach out to them individually and show them how they can improve the overall business in their communities with relationships with organizations such as ours.

"We have amazing independent hoteliers and chains that support the independent planner; this should be our focus," he continued. “Not on those four chains who have worked to destroy the way of life for tens of thousands of independent meeting professionals ... who have supported them for the past 30 plus years.”

[Read This Next: How Independent Event Planners Can Survive Commission Cuts].