Since 1987, The Catchpole Corp, based in Wellesley, Mass., has been a leader in the little-known business of speaker program management, matching corporate executives seeking visibility with conferences seeking speakers. Now Catchpole has taken the business to the Web, and the result may be just as interesting to event organizers as it is to CEOs looking for a bit of the limelight.

For an annual cost of $899, Catchpole sells subscriptions to Speakware Online, an amazingly detailed database of more than 2,700 tech-related conferences (far more expansive than the tech event search engine available free at the company's home page, www.catchpole.com). Not only does Speakware look useful for speakers who are seeking face time before audiences, but consider the event marketing possibilities. Wouldn't it be great to be able to find out quickly and easily whether competing — or complementary — conferences are in town during the dates you're considering for your next user group meeting? With Speakware's search function, such information is literally at your fingertips.

Conferences can be searched by date, topic, location, and marketing keyword. It's also possible to simply review the latest 30 days' worth of conference announcements. The site returns a list of appropriate events, linking to a Catchpole-created profile, complete with contact name and telephone number, a link to the event's Web site, and a box to check if the conference looks worth saving. A handy function allows e-mailing of this list in Microsoft Excel format.

A truly wonderful feature comes next: All the selected conferences, complete with their proposal/call for papers deadlines as well as their start/finish dates, can be displayed on a calendar that can be saved for future reference. The feature is meant to help speakers organize their itineraries, but it is also a wonderful way for event managers to map out where they might want to exhibit, hold a satellite event, or otherwise exploit opportunities.