Need the scoop on a city? Start with the CVB. In addition to having staffs who know their cities inside and out, CVBs and national tourist offices can provide you with just about anything you need: meeting planning guides; restaurant, hotel, and attraction info; and specialty printed materials.

Meeting Guides CVBs publish meeting planning guides with specifics on hotel meeting space, attractions that are open for group events, and, sometimes, even sample agendas for incentives. Do note that these guides are sales tools for the city and typically do not include negative information. Most listings are provided by member institutions.

Log On, Luck Out Many CVBs have Web sites that provide a range of information. Rather than using a search engine that might give you thousands of options for "Dallas" and "meetings," give the CVB a call and get the Web address, or run an online search.

Other Ideas Other sources for city information include hundreds of destination guidebooks, but only a handful produce general guides to a number of the popular cities for meetings. * Access Approximately 35 guides for major cities, states, countries, updated regularly (800) 331-3761.

* Fodor's Thirty guides to U.S. cities, 50 foreign guides, updated annually (800) 533-6478.

* Frommer's About 100 titles, including city, regional, and country guides (800) 428-5331.

* Zagat Surveys Thirty-two restaurant guides for U.S. and Canadian cities and London, U.S. Hotel Resort & Spa Survey, America's Top Restaurants, updated annually (800) 333-3421.

Need a Recommendation? Here are a few other sources you might tap: * Destination management companies--They're invaluable for help with special event venues, transportation, and theme ideas, as well as for general information about a city. A CVB can you give you a list of member DMCs, and hotel convention services managers can provide you with the names of companies with which they have worked.

* Industry associations--Planners who have already done the legwork for their own meetings can save you time and energy by sharing information about a particular city.

* Colleagues--To get the inside scoop, call the marketing or meeting planning departments of similar companies based in your meeting city. Even strangers are often willing to talk about their favorite places and those to avoid.

* Your own corporate travel department--It may sound obvious, but not everyone knows the range of services an in-house department can offer. If you give them the parameters of the meeting--number of people, time of the event, and geographical area--they can often do a search, recommend locations, and gather all the information so you don't have to make all the phone calls.