IACVB Helps Its Members Face the Future Members turned out in large numbers at the annual meeting of the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus, held in late July in Minneapolis, to learn about two initiatives that will shape the CVB of the future. It also marked the last annual meeting at which Edward L. Nielsen would serve as president and CEO. In September he announced he would not renew his contract, which is up on December 31, citing his extensive travel schedule and its effect on his family time as the main reason for his departure.

CVB execs learned first about a strategic plan for their future at a general session highlighting the results of a "future study"; and the next day about a Web initiative called OfficialTravelInfo.com, or OTI for short, which in many ways addressed the problems the future study identified as critical to CVBs' survival. With it, CVBs aim to stake their claim as the "official" source of destination information to tourists and professional planners alike in an attempt to compete with the for-profit dot-coms, like Travelocity, according to William Hanbury, president and CEO of the Greater Milwaukee CVB, who is spearheading the OTI project. For more about OTI, turn to the cover story on page 68.

The CVB Futures Project results found that CVBs are lacking in brand recognition, especially among consumers, and that CVBs consider other bureaus to be their biggest competitors, even more so than the Internet start-ups. If CVBs are to survive and thrive, the findings concluded, they will need to engage in strategic planning, sharing knowledge, alliance partnering, and customer focus.

TOP TRADE SHOW "tchotchkes" How many key rings can a person use? Trade shows are the mecca of promotional knickknacks and, depending on who's doing the giving, freebies can range from mousepads to fine leather briefcases. Here's a look at the "top trade show tchotchkes" by category percentage:

* Wearables - 29.5

* Writing instruments - 9.4

* Office/business accessories - 6.6

* Calendars - 6.4

* Bags - 6.1

* Buttons, badges, etc. - 2.9

* Computer products - 2.7

* Electronic devices - 2.6

Source: Promotional Products Association International

Call it strategic - the Advisory Board for the Puerto Rico Convention Center, scheduled to open in 2002 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has held its first meeting. Board members, representing a solid cross-section of the meeting industry, will be elemental to the facility's success, according to Jose A. Corujo, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. Among the suggestions from the board was how the convention center can build a stand-out Web site as both a sales tool and information hub.

Members attending the Puerto Rico Convention Center Advisory Board inaugural meeting were Gilbert Garber, past president, International Meetings Association; Claudio Alvarez-Dunn, Region 1 director, National Association of Hispanic Journalists; Manuel Julian Tellez, managing director, Quadrofolio, S.A., Madrid; Steve Schuldenfrei, president, Signature Trade Shows Inc., and former executive director of the Society of Independent Show Organizers; DeWayne Woodring, executive/CEO, Religious Conference Management Association; and Teri Jarvie, senior account executive, Conferon Inc. The next meeting is set for December.