Passkey.com, Inc. has forged an alliance with Sabre, an industry leader in electronic travel distribution systems, advancing a step further the concept of one-stop shopping to book air, car, and hotel reservations all in one keystroke.

Passkey's vice president of operations, Tim Durant, says the integration of Sabre's computer reservation system with Passkey's group housing reservation technology will allow meeting planners to book air, car, and hotel reservations via the Internet, and end up with one record for each component. "It's a solution to the nightmares of group travel," he says.

The commercial agreement followed Sabre's announcement that it will make an equity investment in Passkey and take a seat on its board of directors.

Passkey now has 13 convention and visitors bureaus on its client list and logs about 5,000 reservations per week. So what's next? "Passkey will be rolling out an integrated registration component in the near future," Durant promises.

fast facts * 61 percent of events requiring 10 or more hotels will use third parties in 2001, up from 47 percent in 1997.

* Nearly half of meetings requiring four or more hotels were coordinated by third parties in 1999; 35 percent used CVB housing services; and 6 percent handled it in-house.

* Third parties that use Internet-based housing reservation systems were much more popular than CVBs offering the same service.

Source: The 1999 Housing Trends Survey commissioned by the American Society of Association Executives and the Professional Convention Management Association; 293 planners took part in the survey.

profile Ed Simeone, CMP, is Meeting Professionals International's 1999-2000 chairman of the board. In September, after more than 20 years in corporate event management for high-tech companies, (most recently EMC Corp., Hopkinton, Mass.), he began a new chapter as executive producer of meetings and events for Fusion Productions LLC--and became a telecommuter. We caught up with him in New York, while he was on the road for MPI.

TM: How is technology changing the way meeting planners do business?

ES: First, it's providing tools to cut down planning time and make the whole process more efficient. Software and Web-based applications for online housing, online RFPs, budget planning, flight reservations, etc. will all become the norm. Second, we're learning to integrate technology into the meeting itself to reach our objectives. When people can't attend conferences in person, we can bring the meeting to them through distance learning. Satellite or videoconferencing gives us access to bigger and better speakers.

TM: What's the biggest stumbling block?

ES: There's still a lot of technophobia. Even at technology companies like EMC, there are executives who refuse to communicate electronically. And technology has moved faster than meeting planners' ability to use it. We can't keep up because we're inundated with work. I was sent a copy of PlanSoft six months ago, but haven't yet had time to invest in learning how it works.

TM: But aren't technology companies pioneering the use of meeting technology?

ES: Not always. My experience in technology companies was mostly with customer-based meetings, and those require a lot of personal interaction. When I started with EMC in January 1996, the company still hadn't implemented Web-based meeting registration. But it's true that the nature of the corporation forces planners to come up to speed with technology pretty quickly. At EMC we started using the Web for registration in 1997, and two years later 80 percent of the registration for the company's 1,000-person annual meeting was Web-based.

TM: How would you define the role of the meeting planner in 2000 and beyond?

ES: As a meeting manager who knows how to create experiences that are bigger and better than the competition, a marketing specialist with an expertise in communications, and a strategic problem-solver.

Simeone Suggests: * www.travelocity.com

booking travel and car rentals

* www.expedia.com

travel booking, plus a good map fuction

* www.ask.com

Ask Jeeves allows for efficient Web searching

* www.mpiweb.org

industry news and Meeting Professionals International member communications

PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Barbara Dunlavey, CMP, has joined the Information Technology Association of America in

Arlington, Va., as vice president for conferences. Commenting on the conference planning position upgrade to the vice presidential level, Dunlavey said, "The vision here at ITAA is for the conference department to be a strategic part of the whole association." Dunlavey was previously director of educational programming for the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Bluedot.Com has named Diane Wieser vice president of sales. Before joining Bluedot.Com, Wieser most recently served as the vice president of corporate accounts at Penton Media in its Internet media division, which produces the Internet World trade shows.

Reed Exhibition Companies, based in Norwalk, Conn., has appointed Richard (Rick) White as president and CEO of REC North America. White had been general manager of subsidiary brands at Nike.

Denise L. Hunter, CHME, has been promoted to vice president of the New York office at the Krisam Group. She will be responsible for corporate and association business in the Northeast.

Elisa Lanza Jaworski has been promoted to director of national accounts by the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, where she will be responsible for booking high-technology convention business into the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Lesa Bain has joined The Washington (D.C.) Monarch Hotel as corporate sales manager. Her market will include high-technology firms. Bain formerly worked as sales manager at the Hotel Del Coronado, Monarch's sister hotel in San Diego.

Nicole Wilson has been appointed sales manager at The Westin Portland (Ore.), where she will manage corporate travel sales. Wilson was previously executive conference manager at the Benson Hotel in Portland.

Stephen Weber has been named national sales director, Eastern region, at Dolce International, based in Montvale, N.J. Weber most recently served as director of sales for Harrison Conference Services in Tarrytown, N.Y.