“We want APEX to be the ‘Intel inside,” said Terri Breining, chairperson of the Convention Industry Council's APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Initiative at the Meeting Professionals International World Education Conference in July.

Breining, CMP, CMM, president, Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., and her colleagues from CIC announced an upgraded version of the APEX Meeting and Event Toolbox, version 2.0. It updates the more than 200 event management and business templates that interface with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, which were released in version 1.0 of the Toolbox last summer. Approximately 6,000 toolboxes have been distributed.

The APEX initiative includes accepted practices in references, terms, documents, and templates that have been written by volunteers from every segment of the meetings industry over the past five years. The release of 2.0 “is the next step in making APEX ubiquitous in the world of meeting and event planning,” said Breining. She said that APEX will eventually become so accepted that even occasional planners, such as wedding and reunion planners, will use the APEX tools when planning events.

The new version of the Toolbox offers a more comprehensive and varied selection of request for proposal templates, an improved room list template, enhanced navigation, default event and user profiles, and six additional help file lessons.

The final work of the APEX panel, which will include accepted practices in contracts, is winding down, added Breining. “The next phase is about educating the world and getting APEX to ‘live inside.’” To that end, APEX has created an Education Advisory Board that will promote and educate the industry through CIC member organizations, as well as through colleges and universities. Richard Aaron, CMP, CSEP, president, BiZBash Media, will serve as chair of the nine- to 10-person council.

And within the next year, all of the data that a hotel or facility must now rekey when a planner sends it will be mapped and available for seamless communication. Although it will take some time for hotels to adopt it, eventually the two parties can achieve an “electronic handshake,” says E.J. Siwek, president, FlashPoint Technologies, who chairs the APEX Technology Advisory Council. The council is developing a comprehensive data map and associated XML language for use by industry developers that will parallel the forms contained in the tool set. All the major hotel chains and technology companies in the meeting industry also sit on the council and have “recognized the huge efficiencies in electronic business processing,” said Siwek.

Those who already have version 1.0 of the APEX toolbox and registered it by July 1 can upgrade to version 2.0 free of charge, but all users of version 2.0 must register to receive future free upgrades. Others can purchase it for $99 as a download through the conventionindustry.org site. CDs will also become available within a few months.