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Planners & Suppliers: A Symbiotic or Parasitic Relationship?

Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) decision to implement a two-tiered membership fee – where suppliers pay more than planners – is generating a lot of conversation about what is best for our industry.


September 27, 2011

Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) decision to implement a two-tiered membership fee – where suppliers pay more than planners – is generating a lot of conversation about what is best for our industry.

As I understand the issue, MPI believes that planners cannot afford a membership cost increase right, now considering the economic uncertainty within the U.S.

However, MPI wants to increase its funding and so the board has decided to raise the fees for suppliers, because the association believes that suppliers will ante up the additional funds, so they can keep interacting with planners.

The board may be correct when considering the facts, but does that make the decision the right one?

Whether the supplier is an hotelier, a DMC (Destination Management Company), an audiovisual company, a decor provider or a transportation company, they need planners or else they cannot support their businesses.

But planners also need suppliers who understand enough about the meetings and events business to offer the best services and advice.

The best professional relationships have traditionally been symbiotic – both parties supporting each other in a mutually successful business arrangement.

There have been numerous times when suppliers have been honest enough to tell me that their space is not really conducive to the event I am planning, or someone has voluntarily suggested that there may be a better or less expensive alternative to what I am asking for.

I can also say that if I found a salesperson who was not interested in a partnership, but in only making the sale, that representative got as little of my business as possible.

Now we come to where I think MPI’s current policy is misguided – instead of treating all members as equals (which is the way it has been through the 20-plus years of my membership), the association leadership believes that tough economic times make it acceptable to take advantage of suppliers, because they really need planners.

Have I been misguided all of these years?

Is the supplier/planner partnership really only a parasitic relationship, where both parties are hoping to get more than their ‘partner’ from any transaction?

Or do you agree that all meeting and event professionals should believe in a real partnership, where the goal of everyone should be designing and delivering events that best achieve the objectives of the event holder?



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