Conferon Offers Reservations on the Web Now, Conferon clients can offer their attendees an extra perk--the option to register for meetings via the Web. Since December, Conferon, an association and meeting management firm based in Twinsburg, OH, has provided groups with Web sites tailored to their meeting needs. Attendees can register, select sessions, and reserve rooms on the secured site. The site can be expanded, if the client wishes, incorporating brochure pages, for example. The cost of the service varies and is figured into the overall bid.

Online registration streamlines the process, says Marilyn Smock, director of registration and housing for Conferon. "Conflict issues are built into the form, so that [attendees] can't select two sessions at the same time."

During the initial launch, the site handled cancellations, but that has been changed, says Smock, and cancellations will be handled via phone or mail. However, the site does process reservations booked after the cut-off date, automatically adjusting prices. There is also a place on the site for registrants to enter special requests, such as early arrivals or late departures.

The service, at www.signupcenter.com, has been used by groups such as the National Middle Schools Association, the National Association of Counties, and the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Hilton's New Online Group Services Planners booking one-hotel meetings at Hilton properties will soon be able to use the chain's Web site for registration. Currently in a soft launch, the service is slated to be up and running by the end of July, allowing attendees to make online reservations using their conference code and receive immediate confirmations. Hilton, which plans to have the service available at all its facilities, will assign a specific place on its Web site for each group. Meeting organizers that have their own homepages can establish hyperlinks to the Hilton site. The site will be encrypted for security, but attendees will have the option to reserve their rooms at the site, and then call Hilton's dedicated Internet 800 number to place their credit card guarantee. At this point, the Web site cannot handle early arrival or late departure requests, or reservations after cut-off dates. Attendees who have those, or other, needs can call the 800 number.

Associations that don't have their own Web sites will have the option of renting space on Hilton's Web site to post their agendas or registration information. In those cases, Hilton will charge only what it costs to design the site.

Another new service on the Web site, just launched, lists value dates available at all Hilton properties. Currently, only dates are listed, not rates, and dates are posted 30 to 45 days out. The service will probably evolve to include percentage discounts, and dates a year out.

Both services are in the section of Hilton's Web site dedicated to groups (www.hilton.com).