The M-Plus Alliance, an investment and business improvement group launched in June 2020, offers a unique opportunity for independent meeting planning companies to partner for growth.
The Utah-based M-Plus Alliance has already gathered seven U.S.–based third-party meeting management companies under its umbrella and is now actively seeking to expand its partnership portfolio to further strengthen its position. In 2019, the partnership members generated more than $200 million in annual sales and booked approximately 210,000 hotel room nights. The Alliance already is in discussion with 25 companies that are potential member prospects. The plan is to add several new partners by the end of Q1 2022, according to Randy Hunt, Managing Partner, Clearpath Strategies. Clearpath is working for M-Plus to develop the alliance.
So far, Alliance members include Morris Meetings & Incentives and Morris Murdock Travel, Salt Lake City; A-Plus Meetings & Incentives, Coral Gables, Fla.; Columbus Travel Groups + Incentives, Salt Lake City; ADI Meetings & Incentives, Tempe, Ariz.; TMN Events, Boise, Idaho; and Black Pearl Luxury Services, Salt Lake City. Some companies focus mainly on hybrid and virtual events, some strictly on face-to-face, some are mainly incentive-based, while others service a range of event types, including one that manages a large trade show and another that offers destination management company (DMC) services.
M-Plus Alliance is not a venture capital or private equity group, said Hunt. “We are a business partnership comprised of seasoned operators who understand the M.I.C.E industry and have proven and profitable track records.” Jay Klein, owner of A-Plus Meetings & Incentives in Miami, added, “M-Plus has common ownership and is not simply a loose-knit consortium, association, or commission club. We are serious about delighting clients, strengthening supplier relations, and we are unified in our strategic direction.”
In exchange for an investment and capital land value-added advisory services, the Alliance takes a minority position — from 25% to 49% — in each of the companies. Each company retains its brand and autonomy, with the benefit of using the partnership umbrella to gain a joint marketing advantage. The partners also can ease the administrative burden of running an independent company by using the Alliance’s shared services, including vendor management, web development, registration systems, group air ticketing, and some HR, legal and accounting functions.
Klein said, “In addition to the capital M-Plus provides to its member-owners, the resultant group intends to share services with each other, pool buying power with preferred suppliers, and provide improved and more cost-effective services to its clients throughout North America.”
“It’s really the best of both worlds,” added Hunt. “Partner companies have the purchasing power of a group with 210,000 room nights and $200 million in sales while retaining their identity and autonomy.” Partner companies gather regularly to share success strategies and brainstorm with their fellow partners and Alliance leaders, including Klein, who has an MBA from Wharton, and M-Plus Co-founder and Managing Partner David Simmons, who has an MBA from Harvard, along with a long list of successful ventures in meeting management, media and other businesses.
However, the Alliance doesn’t want to run the companies or tell the owners what to do, emphasized Hunt. “The companies the Alliance has invested in didn’t necessarily need the capital, but they were able to use it strategically,” he said. For example, one company used it to buy out a partner who wanted to retire, while others used it to invest in technology. “The shared services they receive under the Alliance umbrella frees up the companies, and their owners, from the administrative busywork so they can concentrate on rainmaking, cost savings and higher margins” he added.
Simmons said, “We are delighted with the quality of the great companies that we have invested in to date. They are led by seasoned owners who love this industry and want to do their part in ensuring that it gets back into thrive mode.”
Other member-owners currently include Brian Hollien with Morris Meetings & Incentives; Ann d’Eon of ADI Meetings & Events; Scott Winegar and Pat Moloney of TMN Events; and Larry Gelwix and Mark Faldmo with Columbus Groups + Incentives.
To learn more, go to www.m-plusalliance.com or contact Randy Hunt at email@example.com.
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