Business Tips

Industry Associations: Why to join and how to take advantage

By Kevin Dennis, Fantasy Sound Event Services

Whether you’re new to a market or you’ve been in the area for years, joining a local chapter of an industry association could be the game-changer you’ve been looking for. In addition to regular networking meetings, membership comes with a number of benefits to your business.

Let’s walk through the process of becoming a member of an association.

Why Join?

Membership to a community of like-minded individuals has a lot to offer. First and foremost, a majority of local chapters host quarterly or even monthly get-togethers for industry peers to network and share ideas, stories and thoughts. Oftentimes, these events are paired with education and can be a great chance to learn from renowned speakers.

Keep in mind: Although you’ll be a member of a local chapter, you’ll also hold membership to the national organization as a whole which may bring a tier of additional benefits like discounted tickets to national conferences and the opportunity to visit other chapters.

How To Choose

There are quite a number of options out there and if you’re just starting out, I’d encourage you to begin by choosing the one that suits your brand and business needs the most. You can always become more involved as time goes on, but it’s best not to overwhelm yourself early on.

Start out slow and build upon your participation until you’re happy with the return. As for picking the right association to join, it all depends on who you are, what your company is all about, and what direction you’d like your business to grow. Do your research and first determine what networking groups are available to you. Then, begin breaking down each so you know what your investment is, as well as your return. Each group will offer different concentrations and unique networking opportunities, so judge them on what they can bring to your table.

Maximizing Your Membership

So, you’ve been going to every networking event, and although you’ve met some really great people, you aren’t quite seeing the return you were looking for. It happens! If you’re looking to boost your membership, it may be time to look into committee roles to see if there’s a spot in which you can share your knowledge. Whether you think the membership committee is a great option or the programs committee seems more up your alley, find an ideal fit and reach out to the committee chair to look into openings. Down the line, a role on a committee could turn into a leadership role, so be prepared to invest yourself in your future.

You can also look into sponsorship opportunities. Each event that is held by a chapter is typically put together by its members – venues, photographers, caterers, florists, designers and the like are all welcome! If you’d like to show off your work in front of your peers, get in touch with the programs coordinator to find out more information. In addition to boosting brand recognition, this is also a great way to bring in vendor referrals.

Although it may seem like a big task to take on, joining an association membership can transform your business – as long as you know what you’re doing. Take some time to be diligent in your search and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.

Business Tips

Room Block Commissions 101

By: Marni Aksut, RB Travel Group

Hi there Wedding Planners! You may have heard on Eddie’s podcast or around town Planners talk about this mysterious IATAN accreditation that allows you to make a commission on Room Blocks (with no cost to clients!). Well, I’m here to explain what IATAN is, the process to get an IATAN # and how I can help you source Hotel Room Block rates.

Let me start by being upfront about a couple things…

1. The IATAN Accreditation process differs a bit from state to state and depending on what state you are in, it can be more complicated than others. Although the accreditation can be a lot of work, if you qualify, it can help your bottom line in a significant way.

2. I am the founder of RB Travel Group and we help Planners like yourself in two ways.

a. We do the time-consuming work negotiating hotel rates & collecting their pricing for you in a simple spreadsheet. This will save you loads of time!

b. Plus we share our commission with you. So whether you have an IATAN accreditation or not, we save you time and help make you extra $.

Let’s jump right into it!

What is IATAN

i. International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN) supplies an accreditation to qualified US travel professionals including Event Planners, which allows you to make a commission on most hotel bookings.

ii. IATAN is an International Non-Profit organization that has been around for over 25 years providing a vital link between the supplier community and the U.S. travel distribution network.

How do you become IATAN accredited?

i. First you complete the Accreditation Application. Follow this link and download the Accreditation Kit to get started.

ii. You need to be able to prove you’ve booked more than $200,000 in Annual Gross Sales for the previous year –OR- have $20,000 of available capital.

iii. You will either need to prove that you have 2 or more years of professional event planning experience –OR- have one of the following valid certifications: Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)/ Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) / or Certification in Meeting Management (CMM).

iv. If you live in one of the following states you will also need a Seller of Travel Registration (CA, FL, HI, IA, WA)

ii. The Application fee is $195 and the annual fee is $98.

IATAN is a great way to get compensated for all your hard work that goes into booking room blocks.

I want to take a moment to recognize that while IATAN is fantastic because it allows you to make extra money on something you are doing anyways, it does not solve the real problem…

PROBLEM: Room Blocks are TIME CONSUMING! As many of you know, dealing with the hotels can be an exhausting experience.

SOLUTION: RB Travel Group (RBTG) sources Room Block rates for you at as many hotels as you want. Plus we share with you 25% of our 10% commission. You do not need your own IATAN accreditation to use our services.

Whether you have the time to reach out to all the hotels and want your own IATAN accreditation, or you prefer RBTG to do the hotel rate search and then share the commission with you, we have one goal in mind. That goal is for all Wedding Planners to enjoy more free time AND earn an income you can be proud of.

I wish you much success and would be happy to be a resource for any planners that have questions about IATAN or RB Travel Group. Feel free to contact me anytime at

Good Luck!

Marni Aksut
RB Travel Group

Business Tips

Brand Ambassadors: Why You Need Them And How To Get Them

By Jennifer Taylor, Taylor’d Events Group

Sure, we all need employees to help us with those pesky day-to-day tasks, but what about brand ambassadors? The difference between an employee and a brand ambassador is one of commitment and dedication to the brand and can make all the difference for a growing company.

Expanding your team isn’t always an easy choice – while you may need the help, it can be difficult to loosen the reins on a business that you’ve built from the ground up. How could anyone ever embody your brand as well as you? While it may seem like nobody could possibly understand the intricacies of your company, it’s important for all business owners to open up a bit and welcome new members to the team when necessary.

A great brand ambassador is one who will represent you and your company, not only in the office but in their personal lives as well. Look for someone who will champion your brand and share in your company values. When interviewing for an open position, come prepared with preferred qualities in mind: Do you want someone who is always on time? Self-motivated? Great team worker? The ideal characteristics will vary depending on your company culture and the position’s duties, but keep your values close as you find the very best fit.

Once you’ve selected the best candidate, it’s time to get your new hire on board with your company culture. From their very first morning, you need to engage them and make them feel as if they are a part of the team. It may be tempting to start by throwing all of their paperwork at them and assigning them some tedious to-dos, but it’s always best to work alongside them the first several days and ask them for their input. Invite them into staff meetings and get their thoughts on certain subject matters – the more they feel valued, the more committed they will be to your business.

In addition to office work, find ways to incorporate them into your outside activities. Looking ahead to a networking event? Get them a ticket and begin to introduce them to your industry peers! Headed off to a trade show? Bring them along and give them pointers about how to navigate the floor. Not only will you be providing valuable experience for your team members, but you’ll also be putting them in a position to handle things like networking events and trade shows on their own, in turn freeing up more time for you.

Think about your best and worst jobs – what kept you motivated and committed? What would you have changed? Leadership is an essential factor in the development of brand ambassadors, so remember to be present and be helpful.

Jennifer Taylor is the owner of Taylor’d Events Group, a planning firm that specializes in celebrations of all kinds in the Pacific Northwest and Maui. She is also the creator of The Taylor’d Plan, a self-administered class for wedding planners to grow and improve upon their skills.