Dear Editor: My name is Marty Bear. I'm president of Professional Marketing Services Inc. in Fairfield, Conn.

I'm writing this letter after returning from a wonderfully produced Insurance Conference Planners Association Annual Meeting in beautiful Seattle in November. The quality of the attendees, speakers, programs, and facilities was outstanding. Congratulations to all those involved in putting on such a strong program.

During the conference, at the Hospitality Partners (suppliers) meeting, I brought up some points that I would like to continue pursuing.

I have been in the meeting industry for more than 18 years and am a dedicated member of such organizations as Meeting Professionals International, American Society of Association Executives, Professional Convention Management Association, and many more.

I am designated as either a supplier member or associate member in all these industry associations. And in each I am considered a full-fledged member in good standing, with the privilege of participating in all activities as a member when I attend industry conferences.

ICPA, however, designates me as a Hospitality Partner, not a member. I have been involved with ICPA for more than 8 years and have attended many of the annual meetings. I have never understood why is it necessary to brand the suppliers that support ICPA as Hospitality Partners instead of allowing us membership status as an associate or supplier member.

I would like to be able to pay annual dues and proudly place the ICPA logo on my catalogs and brochures.

As ICPA faces the challenges of the future and adds more financial planners to its membership, it may be a perfect time to consider other changes as well, such as adding a supplier membership category. Financially, this would strengthen ICPA with large annual revenue from suppliers. It would also be a positive statement to those suppliers who do not make the lottery and journey to the annual meeting each year, or who cannot afford the big bucks to be meeting sponsors.

I believe that ICPA members are among the most qualified and experienced group of planning professionals in the industry today, but it is time to make some positive change. When I made my comments to about 300 Hospitality Partners at our meeting in Seattle, I received a strong round of applause. It was a statement, I believe, of a wonderful group of suppliers asking to become ICPA members.
Marty Bear
President, PMSI
ICPA Hospitality Partner