If everyone participating in the Meeting Visions 2000 conference agreed upon one issue, it was that there needed to be more conferences like it. After 2½ days discussing the technologies available to event organizers, it became clear to participants that a lot of learning still had to be done. As one attendee said, “We need to match up what we want with what we could have — but only if we could think to ask for it!”

The event, co-sponsored by the Maui Economic Development Board Inc. (www.medb.org) and Technology Meetings, was held December 7 to 10 at the Grand Wailea Resort, Maui, Hawaii. Forty-seven participants involved in meeting and event planning at such tech industry giants as IBM, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard took part in approximately 20 intimate (usually no more than 10 participants) discussions of topics ranging from online meeting registration to e-marketing to the pros and cons of outsourcing.

There was also a plenary session on webcasting and Web conferencing, featuring TM columnist Kevin McDermott, managing director of Major Scale Technologies, Chicago; a session demonstrating audience polling devices, led by Mike Nessle of Meridia Interactive Response Systems, Plymouth Meeting, Pa.; and a hilarious (as well as instructive) presentation on state-of-the-art audiovisual tools by Brent Pribil and his cohorts from Cornerstone Technologies, Orem, Utah.

Participants reserved their biggest kudos, however, for keynote speaker Stewart Cheifet, host of the PBS Series “Computer Chronicles.” Cheifet, even more than many of the hospitality and technology industry presenters, appeared to be completely tuned in to planners' concerns and the possibilities of all the new meeting technologies. Jeanne Skog, head of the Maui Economic Development Board, said later that Cheifet's enthusiastic interest in participating was, for her, confirmation that the idea of the conference was a good one.

According to participants, among the better ideas were two informal “best practices” breakfast sessions, moderated by attendees Carolyn Pund of Nortel Networks and Julie Fenker of Oracle. The Saturday breakfast focused on registration issues; the Sunday session on site inspections. As part of the closing session, participants were asked about the issues they thought had emerged from the conference. Foremost among these were the need to delve further into alternatives for handling online registration; an appreciation for the new possibilities that wireless communication might create, as well as an understanding that it was time to start thinking about scaling information to the personal digital assistant and cellphone, not just the personal computer; and a great apprehension — especially among independent planners — that putting their services online, especially into the hands of an outside vendor, might erode customer service. As one participant said, “My clients think nothing of calling me at 7 p.m. to ask for a report. If I outsource, will my vendor understand what I mean by service?”

Along with the technical conference, Meeting Visions 2000 featured networking events at the Outrigger Wailea Resort, Four Seasons Resort, and the Renaissance Wailea Beach Resort. Attendees were pleasantly surprised that the hotels gave their wholehearted support to the conference yet did not require fam tours.

The second annual Meeting Visions conference is scheduled for December 6-10 in Maui.

seeUthere Sponsors CMP Scholarship

How do you see technology affecting the event and meeting planning industry in the future? Answer that question well, and seeUthere.com may reward you with $500.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based provider of online meeting planning tools has established a scholarship for meeting professionals seeking their Certified Meeting Professional designation through the Convention Industry Council. The CMP test is given twice a year, and seeUthere.com will award the $500 scholarship each time to one applicant who has taken the exam and answered its technology-related question in an essay of up to 300 words. For more information about the scholarship, visit www.seeuthere.com/mpscholarship; for details on the CMP exam, go to www.c-i-c.org/cmp/steps.htm.