The long-anticipated Meetings Exchange and Ajenis products will debut, in stages, at upcoming meetings, according to Ed Tromczynski, president, PlanSoft Ajenis, LP, based in Twinsburg, OH. The site selection database, one component of the Meetings Exchange, was to be on the Internet in time for the January Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) meetings. The database enables planners to input their conference locations and needs and then retrieve information on hotels and convention centers that meet their requirements. The full Meetings Exchange- including the regional mall, the database that includes all other vendors, such as audiovisual companies and destination management companies-will be up and running by April and will be showcased at METCON.
Planners will be able to access the database not only on their computers, but via satellite, cable television, and even cellular phones, says Arthur Esch, chief scientist for Meetings Exchange. The database will also be available on CD-ROM.
The Meetings Exchange was formed in June as a cooperative venture between the former Virtual PCMA and the Plan Soft Ajenis Limited partnership. It is available to planners for a $15 monthly fee. The software costs $295. The three sponsoring associations, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), MPI, and PCMA, have paid 1997 and 1998 fees for their members, who will receive free access.
Ajenis, the software product that will create a standardized platform for the electronic exchange of meeting specifications between hotels and planners, is set for a beta launch in April, according to Tromczynski. He anticipates that Ajenis will be ready for full distribution within a few months after that, at a cost of less than $500.
The three founding hotel sponsors of the PlanSoft partnership, Hyatt, ITT Sheraton, and Marriott Hotels, will give the Ajenis software to 3,000 of their meeting planner customers, free of charge. Ajenis was originally designed as a private, dial-up network, but now, Tromczynski says, the company is exploring ways to put it on the Web as well.