3 Small Business Resources for Independent Planners

independent planners, meetings
These meeting planning organizations offer education and networking for small business owners.

Independent planners are the lifeblood of the meeting planning community. Here are three places small business owners can turn for education and networking.

Independent planners took a hit this year when three of the major hotel companies announced they would be cutting commissions to them. These three organizations are addressing the issue, providing education and contacts to make up the difference.

SPIN’s Small Business Community

According to Executive Director Tracey Smith, the recent commission cuts by the major hotel chains have hit many of SPIN’s members hard. A full 46 percent of SPIN members are small business owners. “Based on a recent survey we conducted, 36 percent of our members rely on a commission/fee structure. In order to keep their doors open, they need to change and develop new ways to market their services.”

That’s why SPIN created its new Small Business Community, which will provide on-demand education for its members from experts on business growth strategies. Current offerings include “Mindset Strategies for Business Growth” with Debbie Peterson and “Strategies to Fill Your Pipeline” with Charlene DeCesare. More sessions will be added throughout the year and there will be an entire track devoted to business growth at SPINCon 2018.

MPI Independent & Small Business Owners Community

Members of the ISBO community receive all the benefits of MPI membership, as well as discounts on WEC registration and the “Preferred Planner” membership level for independent third-party planners. Other discounts include: $1,000 off registration for the Certificate in Meeting Management (CMM) business leadership training; $200 off registration for Venue Sales Certificate training; and $100 off registration for Women in Leadership training.

MPI also offers members free virtual small business-themed half-day summits; free independent and small business-related educational webinars; and access to its Independent and Small Business Owner online community.

Meeting Planners Unite

A new association for independent meeting planners, Meeting Planners Unite, has as its mission “to show the hospitality industry a new perspective on the importance of our members and the benefits of developing a strong partnership between supplier and planner,” according to founder David Bruce, managing partner at CMP Meeting Services.

The first live event for the brand-new association will be December 4 to 6 in Washington, D.C. In addition to commissions, lobbying efforts will focus on promoting the importance of the third-party planner and promoting the association’s importance as it pertains to the other branded third-party companies. By leveraging the group’s ability to negotiate in bulk, he plans to offer benefits on services his members use every day, from CPA services to office products to insurance.


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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.