Technology,, and Commissions Key Issues at PCMA Meeting The future is not about either/or. It's about and/both. It's about abundance, not scarcity," espoused technology guru Daniel Burrus at the opening session of the 43d annual meeting of the Professional Convention Management Association. Held in at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel in Orlando, the January meeting drew a record 2,691 registrants, including 1,342 suppliers.
Burrus urged the audience to integrate new electronic capabilities and media, especially the Web, into education and communication programs, with the result being more expansive opportunities for members--and associations. "Change the customer experience, and steal the cash cow."
A more fearful appraisal of the impact of technology was given at another general session focusing on the Y2K problem, at which consultant Arthur Esch, head of Executive Services Ltd. and the technology counsel for PCMA, predicted that while most large U.S. businesses would be compliant, many smaller businesses would go belly up as a result of not being prepared. Planners who have many small businesses as members and who have a meeting in the first quarter of 2000 should expect as much as 40 percent attrition at their events, he said. Other panelists were less dire in their predictions, although Jacy Hanson, director of meeting services for the American Diabetes Association, noted that none of her staff would travel during the last week of December and the first part of January.
Top issues of concern surfaced at packed sessions on attrition, third-party commissions, and post-convention reporting. Said Laurie Behncke, CMP, director of meetings for the American Academy of Neurological Surgeons, "We're [planners] dealing with double-digit growth in F&B rates, with escalating convention center rates and audiovisual rates. We're all going to lose because people are going to find it too expensive to attend meetings [if costs keep escalating]."
In other news at the conference, the Convention Liaison Council gave the green light to the APEX (Accepted Practices in Excellence) initiative and will set up a business and financial plan by spring 1999. No new developments were announced regarding the sexual discrimination/harassment lawsuit filed against PCMA and former COO Bill Myers by a former PCMA employee. At press time, the search for a new COO had been extended. "We've had some challenges this past year," said outgoing president Mickey Shaefer, CAE. "We'll be glad to have them behind us." --Regina McGee