APEX OfficeReady, an application that includes more 200 event management and business templates, was released on June 29 by the Convention Industry Council’s APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Initiative and demonstrated at the Meeting Professionals International Professional Education Conference in Miami last week. It includes everything you need to plan your next meeting—checklists, event specification guides, housing forms, even name badge templates and marketing materials—and interfaces with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

The tool set brings to fruition the hours of labor industry volunteers have spent over the past four years to standardize meeting planning practices, processes, and forms. At the heart of the tool are the customizable event specification guide templates, consisting of the narrative, schedule, and function orders of an event. While both the ESG and the post-event report templates are already available in Word and can be downloaded for free from the CIC Web site, they are now incorporated into OfficeReady, which includes many other business forms a meeting planner uses. The APEX Glossary is also part of the tool set.

The program has been developed in partnership with KMT Software of Cambridge, Mass., which offers templates for a wide variety of office uses through its web site TemplateZone.com.

Once a user registers for the program, he or she will receive free updates—including templates and RFPs for working with any service provider and accepted practices in contract language—as each APEX council completes its work.

Hotels and suppliers in the industry have also recognized the efficiencies that OfficeReady’s uniform documents will bring to the table. Hyatt Hotels and Resorts has purchased 4,000 copies to distribute to its clients, and many other vendors have agreed to make large purchases, according to Mary E. Power, CAE, president and CEO of CIC.

Technology experts from the major meeting hotel chains, convention and visitor bureaus, facilities, and meeting management and hotel management software companies all sit on the APEX Technology Advisory Council, headed by E.J. Siwek, president, FlashPoint Technologies. They meet regularly, says Siwek, and are the driving force behind the OfficeReady product. The council is developing a comprehensive data map and associated XML language for use by industry developers that will parallel the forms contained in the tool set.

That means that within two years all of the data that a hotel or facility must now rekey when a planner sends it will become seamless communication between the two parties.

"It may seem a little bumpy right now," says Mickey Schaefer, CAE, chair of the APEX commission and president of Mickey Schaefer & Associates, LLC. "But it will transform the industry."

For more information or to order a copy for a one-time fee of $99.99, visit www.conventionindustry.org.