APEX Moves Forward with CIC Support For the meeting industry, the Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative is touted as the holy grail of professionalism and performance. For Mickey Schaefer, CAE, vice president for administration, membership, meetings and convention, American Academy of Family Physicians, the latest activity on her long-time and purely voluntary quest is a dream come true.

The Convention Industry Council Board in August gave APEX its own legs on which to stand when it unanimously approved the enterprise as a function of the CIC, with its own commission, panels, and time lines. Standardizing industry practices has been studied for the past three years, with Schaefer spearheading the efforts, but total buy-in on all areas - including the sensitive realms of housing and contracts - was elusive until the CIC, the umbrella organization for 26 industry associations, put its stamp on it.

"I've been in this business for 27 years and we're still working the same way we did since I started," notes Schaefer. "It's time for all of us to embrace this."

The first meeting of the APEX Commission, chaired by Schaefer, was scheduled for September. Volunteer members from nine industry segments - housing, transportation, facilities management, service contractors, convention bureaus, food and beverage services, convention and meeting management, exhibition management, and convention services - will be appointed by the CIC board.

Under the commission are seven industry panels representing the seven areas of work in creating accepted practices. Schaefer says terminology and history/post-event reports are first up, with a target date of the end of 2001.

"We figured that giving up our pet names for things like podium versus lectern is not that big a deal," Schaefer quips. Meeting and site profiles, resumes, work orders, and RFPs are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2002; and, "with a big knock on wood," she says, housing and contracts by the end of 2003.

PlanSoft's completely redesigned meeting planning Web site has a new address: www.mpoint.com. The updated site is one of a host of products from Cleveland, Ohio-based PlanSoft Corp. that are in "advanced stages of development," says Ed Tromczynski, president and chief operating officer.

"We couldn't call them all `PlanSoft,'" he quips. Hence the rebranding of the site, the first of many new branded products to be "brought to you by PlanSoft."

The biggest change at the site is in the property search function. Instead of filling in numerous search criteria, the site returns instant results after just one field is filled in. You then continue to narrow the search with each new field you fill in. This "step search" method was designed to ensure that a user never gets a "zero" result.

For more details on PlanSoft and the many other meeting planning Web sites waiting for you in cyberspace, check out "The Offline Guide to Online Tools," beginning on page 33. You'll also find an expanded version of the guide posted at our Web site: www.meetingsnet.com/dot-comreview.