Here's a good tech meeting trick: Give up just $5,000 in revenue in order to donate $55,000 to a worthy cause and, at the same time, promote your conference. That's what Demo did.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Demo, an annual invitation-only conference showcasing emerging technologies and technology products, took one of its 82 exhibit stations and put it up for bid on eBay, the Internet auction site. While the show's other 81 exhibitors had to survive the executive producer's screening process (Demo had more than 1,000 applicants) and pay $5,000 for the opportunity to show off their products to the 1,000-plus analysts, venture backers, press, and tech company executives expected at Demo 2000, the successful eBay bidder simply had to come up with the cash (and have a new technology or company to launch at the event).

Demo, produced by IDG Conference Management, promoted the auction in a press release, in its e-mail newsletter, and on its Web site. South San Francisco-based Firetalk Communications, which offers real-time voice communications over the Internet, was the high bidder. Firetalk joined Demo at the Renaissance Esmeralda Resort February 6 to 9. Demo will donate the money to Boston Museum of Science Computer Clubhouse, a nationwide after-school program.

*HELMSBRISCOE BUSTS OUT With laser-like intensity, Roger Helms, president and CEO of site selection company HelmsBriscoe, outlined his vision at the company's annual business con- ference in December: "To create and communicate so much benefit and value to having HelmsBriscoe book group rooms that it will be the exception to find an organization that continues that function without us," he said to the 700 people at The Venetian in Las Vegas.

Eight years ago, Helms and his partner Bill Briscoe, both ex-hotel executives, booked $25,000 in hotel room nights in their first year of business. In 1999, HB associates, now numbering 206, booked $1 million a day in room nights at 4,300 hotels. HB was the single largest producer of meetings for Las Vegas in 1999.

HB's business model: Hire former hotel salespeople and meeting planners to work for themselves under the HB umbrella. Help them to set up shop in their own homes and prospect for meetings business, especially among busy corporate executives. HB does the site selection at no charge to the meeting group, but collects a 10 percent hotel commission. Preferred HB partner hotels pay 50 percent at booking and 50 percent at the time of the meeting, plus an annual marketing fee.

Hilton is a chainwide preferred partner. Steve Armitage, vice president/managing director of sales, said, "We consider HB-ers an extension of our sales team." Fred Kleisner, president and CEO of Wyndham International, said as his company automates room booking to give real-time access to a single inventory, "we will give a direct line to all our booking organizations, and HelmsBriscoe is where I would start."

Kleisner was a panelist at the meeting with Eric Danziger, president of Carlson Hotels Worldwide, and Adams Business Media President Mark Adams. --Betsy Bair

*LEARNING ABOUT TECH LEARNING The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), Alexandria, Va., and The Masie Center, a learning and technology think tank in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., have partnered to study the factors that contribute to the success of technology-based training.

Their first effort is the Learning Technology Acceptance Study, launched last fall and due to be released in June. The study will try to determine the conditions under which people are more likely to accept and use technology-based learning, looking at such issues as

* learner motivations,

* event logistics (timing, location, etc.),

* the marketing and promotion of the learning opportunity,

* the physical learning environment,

* rewards and recognition, and

* level of management support.

*PEOPLE IN THE NEWS Pam Altman has been named regional director of sales for Bacara Resort & Spa, a new luxury property in Santa Barbara, Calif. Before joining Bacara, she was national sales manager for the Loews Anatole Hotel in Dallas.

Michele McGill has joined the Tacoma-Pierce County (Wash.) Visitor and Convention Bureau as convention sales manager. She had been director of sales for the Seattle International Trade Center.

MC2, a meeting marketing and production company, has added new personnel to its St. Louis office. Adele Gianino has been named meeting planner. She was formerly a meeting manager for TWA and membership sales manager for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission. Tammy Ormson will be account executive. She was previously a special events manager with Saks Fifth Avenue. In addition, MC2 has added two new event coordinators. Cecelia Botterell was formerly event coordinator for Lutheran Family and Children's Services, and Melissa Holmes comes from London, England, where she was an independent event planner.

Kim Golik has been named director of sales for the Westin Seattle, the largest hotel in downtown Seattle.

The Claremont Resort & Spa, Oakland, Calif., has appointed Annette Marteeny as sales manager. She had been a catering sales manager for a restaurant in Walnut Creek, Calif.

Nancy Mendelson has been promoted to vice president of Production Resources Inc., a New York City- and San Francisco-based production company.

GES Exposition Services in Las Vegas, Nev., has named Dave Hall vice president of the newly formed Central/Mid-Atlantic division located in Chicago. Most recently, Hall was the general manager of three divisions for GES, including Texas, Mid-Atlantic, and Phoenix.

Destination Hotels & Resorts recently named Brian Windle to lead the company's co-branding efforts as senior vice president of sales and marketing. His goal will be to unite their properties under a recognizable corporate name. Windle had been vice president of sales and marketing for Starwood Hotels and Resorts, responsible for the launch and management of the "W" brand in the United States.