Dot-coms Align, Emerge, Even Give It Away The latest dot-com pairing will have b-there.com (www.b-there.com) offering its meeting planner users the opportunity to add a direct link to the travel booking capabilities of GetThere (www.getthere.com) at event registration Web sites those users create through b-there.com.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based GetThere, whose long-term goal is to offer travel reservations via direct connections with hotels and airlines, now offers most of those reservations through its connections with the major global distribution systems (GDSs) such as Apollo, Worldspan, and Sabre (which at press time was still in the process of finalizing its purchase of GetThere).

According to Jim Forberg, vice president of strategic marketing for b-there.com in Westport, Conn., the two companies have been working on the agreement for about six months, mostly negotiating a pricing plan for the service. "This completes our services with a travel function," he says.

Meeting planners will pay a one-time setup fee of about $9,000 to incorporate the GetThere portal on event registration Web sites created with b-there.com.

B-there.com will then charge a negotiated transaction fee for each air booking and pay a portion of it to GetThere. Who pays that fee? "It depends on how the meeting planner wants to structure it," Forberg says. Passing the fee on to the attendee is one option; including the transaction costs in the event budget is another. For more on these two companies, see "The Offline Guide to Online Tools" in the October issue of AM.

A Free Lunch? CyExpo.com (www.cyexpo.com), Houston, is the latest dot-com in the crowded virtual-trade-show-provider space, but giving it away is the twist. Says Rick Frank, president of CyExpo, the portal offers a free Show Information Page to trade show organizers.

"We realized that many associations and trade show organizers work with limited budgets and can't support the expensive venture of a virtual show," says Frank, a self-described entrepreneur who "bought some technology and source code information and ended up in the trade show industry."

What can a show organizer get for free from CyExpo.com? Basically a promotion page for his or her event that includes exhibitor listings and registration; online co-marketing opportunities with show sponsors through banner ads and press releases; hyperlinks to the show organizer's home page; as well as newsletters, chat rooms, surveys, bulletin boards, and industry news content.

"If an association feels we can increase its bottom line with our interactive floor plans," Frank says, "then we can turn the page into a virtual show with e-commerce, where we share in the revenue from that." These "virtual stores" are where CyExpo.com generates its income through a revenue-sharing model with the association. Revenue from banner ads on show information pages is also shared. There is a fee for setting up the virtual stores, called "The Plaza," which is negotiated based on show size, features, and hyperlinks.

Among CyExpo portal clients is the Iowa Pork Congress, the annual meeting and exhibit of the Iowa Pork Producers Association, January 24 to 25, at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Des Moines, Iowa.

For Asia Only A new online RFP engine is available for meeting planners who need to find locations and convention facilities in the Asia-Pacific region. Hong Kong-based EventClicks (www.eventclicks.com) promises to turn around requests within 30 minutes, according to CEO Tom Murphy, a 30-year senior event management veteran of IBM.

EventClicks' RFP process is similar to that of other online site selectors: The request is acknowledged by an account executive dedicated to the requesting client, who will coordinate information between the planner and venues by e-mail, phone, or fax until a venue is under contract. Like most online RFP engines, the service is free to planners. EventClicks makes its money on fees paid by the properties.