by Sarah J.F. Braley | January 26, 2018
Following Marriott International's decision to cut third-party planner commissions from 10 percent to 7 percent, independent planners looking for answers and leadership on the issue from their industry associations - and they're not getting much help. 
After reaching out to the American Society of Association Executives, the Global Business Travel Association, Meeting Professionals International, the Professional Convention Management Association and other organizations, M&C has yet to hear back from PCMA, and GBTA noted that, as a trade association, it is unable to comment on supplier initiatives. Below are statements from MPI and ASAE.
 
"As an association, MPI's focus is on ensuring the long-term and sustainable financial health of the events industry, and raising the professionalism of those who work in it," said Paul Van Deventer, above, president and CEO of the group. "MPI's membership consists of a broad and diverse community of event professionals who are directly and indirectly impacted by this decision, including thousands of third-party planners, the global hotel brands and numerous Destination Marketing Organizations. Third-party organizations have become an integral part of the live-events industry's value chain and are a proven and important resource for planners, destinations and venues. As in any business relationship, the value of services provided needs to be determined by the organizations benefiting from said services."
 

The American Society of Association Executives is taking a wait-and-see approach to Marriott's news. "In my view, Marriott is reacting to market forces and their ability to allocate resources where they believe they can achieve the most value," said John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE, president and CEO of ASAE. "The impact on associations, third parties, housing bureaus and the overall hospitality industry remains to be seen as the details of this decision become more clear."

In a more firm statement, Zane Kerby, president and CEO of the American Society of Travel Agents, responded to the Marriott cuts: "While we are in the process of assessing the impact of Marriott's announcement on our members' businesses, we are disappointed in the signal that a cut of this magnitude sends to the broader agency community. Travelers -- individuals and groups, corporate and leisure -- are relying now more than ever on trusted agents to help them sort through a multitude of travel options and get the best value for their travel dollar. In our view, a 30 percent cut in intermediary compensation diminishes the value of the role agents play in this complex and ever-changing industry. We plan to discuss this change with Marriott, our agency and consortia members, and other stakeholders with an eye toward ensuring positive business outcomes for all involved."
 
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