Labor Accord CHICAGO WINS BACK RSNA Ater meeting regularly in Chicago since 1915, the Radiological Society of North America shook up the Windy City recently by announcing it was taking its Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting to Orlando in 2002 and 2003. But that was before Chicago's unions and convention industry officials ended months of acrimonious negotiating and signed an accord reducing labor costs and hassles for trade show organizers. (See "Chicago--No Longer Singing the Labor Blues?" MM, December 1998, page 15.) The RSNA responded, deciding to stay in Chicago through 2004.

The labor agreement, the promise that Chicago would have 12,000 additional hotel rooms by 2002, and the hotel community's commitment to provide more competitive rates and larger room blocks all were factors in RSNA's decision, says Del Stauffer, executive director. RSNA's board was also concerned that the Orange County Convention Center would not have enough space. Even so, without the changes in Chicago, RSNA probably would have gone to Orlando, even if it meant "squeezing down" its meeting.

While winning back RSNA is a major coup--with more than 60,000 attendees, it is the nation's largest medical trade show--it is not Chi-cago's only victory following the new labor rules. The National Housewares Manufacturers Association, which puts on the country's eighth largest trade show, also announced it would stay in Chicago, at least until 2003. The group had considered moving to Orlando.

There has been a dramatic increase in inquiries [from meeting organizers] over the last few months," says Stauffer, who also serves on the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau's governing board of directors. "Chicago is a much more usable city for convention planners."

RSNA has not abandoned Florida. It will meet in Orlando in 2005 and in Chicago for 2006 and 2007. Then, beginning in 2008, RSNA will meet in even years in Orlando and in odd years back home.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Convention Center has acquired 200 acres of adjacent land, and aims to add one million square feet of exhibit space by 2003. That would bring the total to 2.1 million square feet.

CVB News SHAKE-UP AT CHICAGO CTB Fighting hard to retain its competitive edge in the convention market, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau has taken the unusual step of bifurcating its top position. President and CEO Paul D. Astleford has been stripped of his CEO responsibilities. Taking on that title sometime in Feb-ruary will be Jim Reilly, who will leave his post as CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which manages McCormick Place and Navy Pier.

The bureau's goal is to expand its agenda to include fund-raising and legislative advocacy. The politically connected Reilly will work on garnering government support of the convention industry and direct fund-raising efforts, while Astleford will focus on sales.

Though there has been speculation that Astleford would resign, the bureau has extended his contract past the 18 remaining months.

Tough Times PCMA FIGHTS SEXUAL HARASSMENT CHARGES The Professional Convention Management Association has been slapped with a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit brought by its former controller, Pamela M. Boyles, who worked at PCMA from 1995 to 1997. In her complaint, Boyles says that her supervisor, William J. Myers, CAE, CMP, created a sexually hostile environment. Myers, who was COO, was fired by PCMA in October for violation of its sexual harassment policy, about a month after the lawsuit was filed. Myers denies the allegations.

In her statement Boyles alleges, among other complaints, that Myers commented on women's appearances and anatomies, and rubbed her shoulders while looking down the front of her blouse. Boyles also states that her salary was half that of male executives at her same professional level. Another former PCMA employee, LaVerne Croom, who served as vice president of administration, has also filed a complaint concerning compensation, but not harassment, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Despite PCMA's firing of Myers, the board has decided to defend itself against the lawsuit. "The facts will show that PCMA did not discriminate against either of these individuals," says Ruth W. Woodling, attorney with Fisher and Phillips LLP. Woodling is representing PCMA in this case. PCMA president Mickey Schaefer, CAE, points out that Boyles never reported being sexually harassed during the time she was employed.

Also refuting the salary discrimination charges, Schaefer says PCMA salaries are based upon the association's formal salary administration program, which uses a formula devised by the Hay Group, a company that specializes in analyzing association employee salaries. Boyles' and Croom's salaries, explains Schaeffer, were within Hay Group guidelines.

Although Myers is the only individual defendant named in the complaint, Boyles also claims that Roy B. Evans Jr., CAE, executive vice president and CEO of PCMA, furthered a sexually hostile workplace by making derogatory comments about women.

Evans emphatically denies the allegations. "The board has supported Roy throughout this process," says Schaefer.

Meanwhile, PCMA has concluded taking applications from COO candidates and hopes to have a person on board by the end of the first quarter. Would PCMA consider hiring a woman? "Absolutely," Evans says, "if she is the best candidate."

As for Myers, he has moved back to his home town of Kansas City, Mo., and has been asked to speak to groups and to help with several meeting-industry projects. "I am moving on with my life. PCMA is a great organization. I harbor no grudges," he says. "I'm enjoying the change of pace."

CME News EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL PROVIDERS, SAYS ALLIANCE The Alliance for CME has taken a stand on the inflammatory issue of what types of organizations should be eligible for accreditation. The Accreditation Council for CME's standards should be applied equally across the spectrum of CME providers. This according to a draft position paper the Alliance issued recently concerning accreditation and CME.

"An organization's eligibility to be accredited to provide CME to physicians should be based solely on the organization's ability to be in compliance with the Essentials and Standards," board members proposed in the paper.

The issue of what kinds of organizations are eligible for accreditation has been smoldering for years, erupting this summer when a confidential white paper surfaced that had been sent to the ACCME. Signed by nine members of the Society for Academic CME, it called for the ACCME to change its eligibility requirements and lock out for-profit providers, such as medical communication companies and pharmaceutical firms. The paper stated that only licensed academic medical institutions, specialty societies, and state medical societies should be considered for accreditation. (See Feedback, page 14.)

While the Alliance's draft position is not a response to that white paper, stresses Joan Sondag Taylor, Alliance board member and health care education consultant, it "did make the board aware that the Alliance should have a statement on accreditation." The board backs the ACCME, and believes that all eligible providers should meet the ACCME requirements equally, says Taylor.

The draft statement, which includes other points about accreditation as well, was faxed to the membership for input, and will be finalized with members' comments incorporated, Taylor added.

CANCEL YOUR MEETING one week out and you can expect an angry hotel staff and lots of penalties in today's tough market. But Joretta Rahim, CMP, CMM, senior manager, meeting and conference services for Pragmaton, a medical communications company in Chicago, managed to turn a potential disaster into a business opportunity for both her client, a pharmaceutical company, and the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

When the required 75 physicians failed to register and Pragmaton's consulting conference had to be canceled, Rahim, a 20-year meeting industry veteran, had a trick up her sleeve. She always writes an addendum to her contracts, stipulating that if she rebooks a canceled meeting within six months, any cancellation damages will be applied to her meeting costs.

Still, she knew she had to rectify this touchy situation face to face. "I went down there and met with them," she says. "I told them I understood they were losing revenue." She not only rebooked the canceled meeting, she also placed an additional conference at the property. "I helped the hotel fill a need during its off-peak season. Because I was willing to do that, they were willing to help me. If planners and suppliers work together, we can eliminate some of the financial risk for both parties."

Because Rahim rebooked, the cancellation costs ended up being a wash. And, she adds, "the hotel still likes me."

Tips * Be friendly. "I am able to negotiate more things because I am not a mean person. I am a warm person," says Rahim.

* But be tough. Read all the small print in contracts, and add or change clauses to protect yourself.

* Speak up. Don't be afraid to spend 30 minutes with a hotelier clarifying, for example, those treacherous attrition clauses.

Trade Show Trends E-COMMERCE: AN EXHIBITOR DRAIN? Think you can get complacent with the trade show industry enjoying record growth? No way. Traditional sales, marketing, and service methods are rapidly morphing due to the Internet. Just one example: In the next five years, Procter & Gamble will shift 80 percent of its ad dollars to cyberspace.

So said Dr. Oren Harari, author of Leapfrogging the Competition, during his keynote address at the International Association for Exposition Management's December annual meeting, held in Nashville's Opryland Hotel. " You've got to lead the market, not respond to it," he underscored.

As if to illustrate his point, a new virtual trade show product attracted a lot of attention at the conference. Developed by Third Millennium Communications, Inc. in Atlanta, the system's features include online registration, an e-mail distribution list, and an exhibitor directory. What is unique about the product, expoexchange, is its e-commerce capability, which allows registered exhibitors to sell their products directly through the show Web site.

Asked whether this ability would, in the long run, erode exhibitor participation at the live event, outgoing IAEM chairman Lawson Hockman answered, "There is no doubt that business-to-business e-commerce is going to affect trade shows--not always in positive ways. But many people in the industry think it's better to make technology work for you rather than run away from it."

The IAEM meeting drew 1,957 registrants, of whom 700 were exposition managers.

--Regina McGee

"There's nothing wrong with promotion. It's the American way. But when you start to call something education, particularly certified CME, that puts [an event] in a sacred category. You better be real sure that it is unbiased and comes without influence."

Sue Ann Capizzi, a 27-year CME veteran, and currently COO/director, administration & personnel, for the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc. in Deerfield, Ill., says she is "heartsick" about how both providers and supporters of CME try to merge education with promotion.

When she served as head of the for-profit National Center for Advanced Medical Education, "supporters would say to me, 'We want to work with you because we know you can make it look right,'" she recalls. She also encountered providers trying to cross the line when she worked for the Accreditation Council for CME. The problem is not with ACCME or AMA guidelines, she says, but in how people view them. "You can make the documentation look right. You can fool the standard. But what's in our hearts? You can't fool your heart."

If those in the CME field continue to stretch ethical boundaries, "we will undermine the system. We will be undone as a whole," warns Capizzi. "The ACCME and the AMA and the education community as well as industry will be viewed as not having integrity. We will be back to the beginning. That [idea] makes me shiver."

Planner Education LINING UP AT THE BORDERS The Beyond Borders Conference is back by popular demand April 5 and 6 at the New York Hilton. This third annual event is organized by Adams Business Media/Meetings Group, publisher of this magazine and Beyond Borders, a how-to supplement on international planning. Martin Kinna, an internationally recognized London-based educator, will kick off the program with a panel discussion about site selection.

Designed for planners both new and expert at holding international meetings, other sessions will focus on technology, food and beverage, currency and VAT reclaim, risk management, freight and shipping, and contract negotiation. One workshop will provide tips on protecting your attendees' health and safety; while another will examine a case study on planning an international meeting.

New this year: Paula Hill, international marketing director, Adams Business Media/Meetings Group, will present the first Global Achievement Awards, given to cities, airlines, convention centers, and hotels outside of the U.S. that have been recognized in our reader poll.

Planners of the event are Virginia Lofft, vice president and publishing director, Adams Business Media/Meetings Group; and Ann J. Boehme, president and founder of Meetings and Management Techniques Plus, Valley Stream, N.Y. The cost for planners is $275; for suppliers, $395. For registration info, visit our Web site at www.meetingsnet.com or call (516) 561-4223; fax (516) 872-6397.