San Diego Wows Meeting Attendees Maya Angelou didn't use PowerPoint in her key- note address at the American Society of Association Executives annual conference. Instead, she used poetry, passion, song, and memory to encourage attendees to recognize the power they have to help people.

ASAE planners had already taken heed of her message, bringing in 60 young people from the community and teaming them up with association execs and exhibitors so they could learn about the meeting industry.

Angelou and the other general session speakers--astronauts Jim Lovell and Gene Kranz of Apollo 13's command control--plus perfect weather and a great family destination all helped make the ASAE meeting in San Diego the association's largest ever. Held from August 21 to 24, the conference drew a record 6,221 delegates, including a high number of guests, spouses, and children.

Art and culture played a major role in the San Diego event. Evening events at Embarcadero Bay Park, Balboa Park, and Navy Pier (featuring a concert by Kenny Loggins) gave delegates a taste of San Diego's colorful history and incredible outdoor venues.

In other firsts at the meeting:

*The ASAE Silent Auction was held entirely in cyberspace.

*ASAE meeting staff used Palmtop computers, rather than notebooks, to update the meeting details.

*ASAE announced two online alliances: A partnership with the PlanSoft Network allows meeting planners to electronically build a complete meeting request and submit it to several facilities at once. ASAE has also joined forces with The organizations will jointly promote a Web site, debuting late this year. The portal will give the general public access to information, services, and products offered by associations.

HOUSING Housing was the focus of lively debate during an interactive session at the ASAE annual conference. Attendees discussed strategies for meeting their room blocks. They noted problems dealing with international delegates, as overseas tour operators often circumvent housing blocks. Attendees also reviewed the new ASAE/PCMA (Professional Convention Management Association) Housing Trends Study; 293 planners took part in the survey, which asked planners about their current (1999) and future (2001) housing practices. The previous survey was conducted in 1997. * For events requiring 10 or more hotels, 61 percent will use third parties in 2001, up from 47 percent in the previous survey.

* Nearly half of meetings requiring four or more hotels were coordinated by third parties in 1999; 35 percent are using CVB housing services; and 6 percent are handling it in-house.

* Third parties that use Internet-based housing reservation systems were much more popular than CVBs offering the same service. --Betsy Bair