While a 27-year-old association is considered relatively young, it’s not unusual to find those that conduct their annual meetings the same way year after year, becoming stale despite their relative youth. Not so for the International Association of Conference Centers, which webcast a live town hall meeting at its 27th annual conference at the Zermatt Resort & Spa in Midway, Utah, last week.

The first-ever interactive town hall meeting featured IACC’s seven committee heads on stage addressing questions from the nearly 400 attendees in the live audience, as well as text questions from members watching from their conference center computer screens around the world.

The aim was to allow members to see the association as “two-way communication in a timely, no-holds-barred manner,” said IACC President Neil Pompan, COO and CFO, EMCVenues. He said the association also hoped to educate members about new initiatives under way, all of which underscore the IACC difference: Its 300-plus conference center members all meet stringent universal criteria that provide high-quality facilities for meeting professionals, and regularly undergo audits to ensure they meet quality standards.

IACC also introduced its new brand at the conference, which includes a new visual identity and logo. Under the letters IACC, the words “meeting experience” have been added to denote the association’s focus on quality and standard setting.

On the final night of the banquet, the Mel Hosansky Award for Distinguished Service, always kept a surprise to the recipient until that evening, was given to Rodman Marymor, CEO, Cardinal Communications Inc., who built IACC’s Web site into a respected industry portal. In an emotional speech, Marymor thanked his family, who flew in from Northern California to surprise him, and his longtime business partner, Katy Dunmire. Meeting professionals know and appreciate Marymor as the creator of the original meetings industry listserv, the MIMlist.

Established in 1985, and originally called the Distinguished Service Award, the award was renamed in 1990 in memory of its first recipient, Mel Hosansky, who died that year. A longtime editor of Meetings & Conventions magazine and, later, Successful Meetings, Hosansky was an early supporter of IACC and its activities. It acknowledges one individual who has given much to IACC and the conference center industry.

Finally, Marc Suennemann, executive chef at Chateau Elan Winery, Resort & Conference Center, Braselton, Ga., (coincidentally, the site of next year’s IACC annual meeting) won the annual Copper Skillet Championship. Also webcast to member conference centers, the contest is patterned after the wildly popular Iron Chef America series on the Food Network, and it pits the cooking skills of conference center chefs from eight different countries in a 90-minute program that has become a highlight of the annual conference.

Plans are in the works to allow meeting planners to see cook-offs between U.S. conference center chefs at upcoming IACC regional meetings, one of which will be held in New Jersey in June and one next January in Chicago.

For more information about upcoming events and a directory of all IACC conference center members, visit iacconline.