New Independent Planner Group Announces Expanded Lobbying Role, Member Dues

Meeting Planners Unite, a group that started as a social-media reaction to Marriott International’s announcement in January that it will reduce commissions from 10 percent to 7 percent for third-party planners, released details of its shift to an official advocacy organization designed to lobby and serve independent planners on a whole range of issues.

Organizer David Bruce, managing director of CMP Meeting Services, said in early March that he has filed paperwork to form a nonprofit that “looks like an association.” In announcing the two-tiered membership structure that would charge $249 for independent, corporate and association planners, and $499 for hoteliers, convention bureaus and other suppliers, he told prospective members that “the opportunity to change the mindset of the industry starts with this organization.” He added, “MPU will be wholly and completely centered around the needs of our third-party clients.”

In addition to lobbying about commission issues, he plans to offer members access to group pricing for wireless, legal, accounting and transportation services. “These are challenges third parties face that we can help them solve,” he said from his offices in Dallas. He hopes to leverage a critical mass of independent members as numerous as any of the big four site-selection companies, to secure better pricing than any of the members can get on their own.

Bruce is also planning an annual conference for members that will address their unique concerns. “What I am most excited about is the chance to help people through a charity,” he said. “This is a difficult business, and we want to be there to help people when they need it.” He plans to offer the help in the form of loans and gifts.