New York Life’s new meeting planning efficiency depends on its database—a tool that can be manipulated to complete just about every planning task there is. The company’s Isis Gold database performs functions in two main areas, explains Kim Quimby, database manager, event management and attendee registration.

For registration, Quimby "polls" the New York Life mainframe for all of its data about the meeting attendees and then imports that information into the registration part of the database. From that database, Quimby then creates a Web site with a page for each attendee. "Anything we already know about them is there" when they log on to register, she notes. The attendee simply adds the information specific to the particular meeting and submits it.

The event management section of the database keeps every meeting detail in one place. Quimby first creates a shell for all of the individual activities. She takes the Grand Ballroom, for example, and creates an event template for each function that will take place in that ballroom. Then individual planners fill in the details—everything from the setup crew to the floral arrangements to the menu. A project manager is constantly reviewing all of the events and noting any gaps.

"Then we take the database on site with us and we’re all networked together," Quimby says. "We can all see what everyone is working on." She knows the database inside and out, mainly because she joined New York Life from Isis. "A division like this needs a chief information officer," says Jules del Vecchio, vice president, meetings, who hired Quimby. "That’s the way I look at Kim."