The new year kicked off with two January conferences that offered hands-on cyberspace education-highlighting a trend at meeting planner industry conferences. Both the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) 41st Annual Meeting, and Meeting Professionals International (MPI) 1997 Professional Education Conference-North America featured technology laboratories.

But it is the upcoming METCON, the conference cosponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and PCMA, April 9 to 11 at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare and Rosemont Convention Center, that best illustrates how integral technology has become-and will be in the future-to the meeting planning process. Unlike the other conferences, METCON focuses solely on technology as it applies to meetings.

"There are a lot of meetings on technology and a lot of meetings on how to plan meetings. Until this point, there have been no meetings on how to use technology in the meetings marketplace," says Bill Myers, PCMA's chief operating officer. The goal of METCON, says Myers, is to teach attendees skills that they can then pass on to their own members, and use to produce better meetings.