In January, at the Meeting Professionals International Professional Education Conference (PEC) at Nashville's Opryland Hotel, MPI Chairman Ed Simeone, CMP, continued a theme that he introduced at MPI's World Education Congress (WEC) last summer: balancing work and home life.

Fast Company magazine's co-founder, Bill Taylor, who delivered a keynote at the meeting, appeared delighted by the choice. "Companies ask me to talk about the Internet, 20-somethings, or the stock market," he told the audience of 2,182 planners and suppliers. "Almost never do I get asked to discuss what I think is the most important topic today: How can you work with all-out intensity and still lead a life that feels sustainable, humane, and retains a sense of fun?"

There's no easy answer, but the key, Taylor says, is to design your work life around three principles that will allow you to answer the increased demands from the market: First, your job is not to out-work the competition, it's to out-think the competition. Second, make time a metric of success. Maximize your return on minutes in addition to your return on (monetary) investment. Third, hire great people and let them do their work.

On an individual level, Taylor suggests these three principles: First, regularly put yourself in environments that are new to you so that you keep learning. Second, recognize that being in charge doesn't mean having all the answers; it means orchestrating connections so that the collective brain can come up with the best ideas. Third, plan time to stop and think.

News from the PEC * This year's PEC was the first to feature a trade show. "The WEC gets sold out immediately. This is another opportunity for suppliers to come into this market," Simeone explained. "There was some concern because this meeting is supposed to focus on education. But that should not necessarily preclude exhibits."

* The government of Mexico has partnered with MPI to sponsor the first year of a distance learning program for members. Another goal of the partnership is publication of a handbook on organizing meetings in Mexico.

* Some 2,200 corporate meeting managers are being surveyed during the first quarter of this year in an effort to establish a benchmark for meeting management practices. The project is being sponsored for MPI by American Express Corporate Services, New York. The survey will cover the use of automation; methods of measuring the value of meetings to attendees, senior management, and meeting suppliers; and methods of collecting and leveraging spending data. Results will be announced at MPI's World Education Congress, July 9 to 11, in Los Angeles.

* Heading overseas? The newest MPI handbook, How to Plan Meetings in Europe, is now available through the MPI Bookstore.

MPI/PlanSoft Tech Survey

Meeting Professionals International and Plansoft, the Internet-based meeting planning service, cosponsored a study in December to determine the degree to which the industry uses the Internet to facilitate business. Conducted by J.D. Power, the telephone survey reached 600 meeting planners and 600 suppliers. Here's a sampling of the results.

Respondents who have access to the Internet: 100 percent

Planners use the Internet to ...

* communicate with colleagues: 92 percent

* research cities: 85 percent

* research event locations: 84 percent

* communicate with suppliers: 82 percent

* distribute RFPs: 45 percent

* provide housing/registration for attendees: 43 percent

Average increase reported by hoteliers in the RFPs and leads received via the Internet: 42 percent

DRAMATIC GROWTH FOR ALLMEETINGS.COM Is there room in the market for another Internet meeting planning site? People at AllMeetings.com think so. Brian Ashton, vice president of the company, based in Henderson, Nev., says AllMeetings.com has the only online meeting planning tool that is cost-focused.

The company has experienced more than 100 percent monthly growth since its launch in May 1999, Ashton says, which he attributes to the site's cost-calculating destination selection service. Ashton touts the site as the only place on the Internet where planners can get prices on hotel rooms, airfare, ground transportation, and meals.

The AllMeetings site (www.allmeetings.com) uses a proprietary search engine listing thousands of hotels, as well as average meal, airfare, and ground transportation costs based on the city selected. On a recent tour of the site, Ashton demonstrated how a planner can fill in the blanks with meeting specs, much like filling out an RFP form, starting with meeting dates, the airports from which attendees will depart, and the number of attendees from each departure location.

If a planner has not determined a site for the meeting, the search engine will return a list of destinations in a spreadsheet format that includes average meal costs, airfare, and ground transportation for each location. If a planner already has a destination in mind, the site's "Budget Estimator," allows a planner to choose a metro area--Los Angeles, for example. Again the planner fills in the blanks, and the search returns a list of potential properties and their room rates. AllMeetings.com generates its revenue by collecting the standard 10 percent hotel commission.