Room Keys with Attitude What item do conference attendees look at more than any other? The conference brochure? The podium? The clock? Well, it might just be their hotel room keys. And there's a way you can leverage those little cards everyone carries around.

When plastic cards first replaced the old fashioned lock and key, hotels usually handed out "keys" with their logo on one side. Now, event planners can take charge of that valuable few square inches of real estate with custom printing.

Lock Tech International, Asheville, N.C., which merged with Plasticard Products Inc. to become the biggest supplier of plastic hotel room keys, can put anything on the key. Consider your conference logo, a sponsor's logo (who will pay for the privilege), or your CEO's face. Have some fun.

Cards are available forany hotel lock system and come in white, black, and gold. A one-color printing for 1,000 cards costs about 65 cents per card, while a four-color print job runs about double that. Volume discounts are available. For more information, visit www.hotelkeycard.com or contact Jim Smith, vice president of sales, at (800) 365-0004 or LTIsales@hotelkeycard.com.

And Now: A Portable Network If you've been reluctant to create small networks (say, eight computers) at off-site venues because of the disproportionate expenses involved, you're going to love a new product from Xircom Inc., Thousand Oaks, Calif. The NetStation all-in-one conference room networking device makes it possible to sit eight laptop-toting professionals around a table and connect them to each other with a single Ethernet drop. For larger groups, several NetStations can be daisy-chained to expand network access to as many as 24 computers or Palm Pilots. With its sleek, easy-to-install design and convenient, built-in retractable Ethernet cables, the NetStation device eliminates the need for expensive customized networking furniture--not to mention greatly reducing the amount of time required of an expensive, customized IS manager.

The built-in retractable Category 5 Ethernet cables mean there are no loose cables to stock or inventory. The station automatically negotiates 10BaseT or 100BaseT Ethernet switching, and will operate at half- or full-duplex speeds. Each user gets dedicated bandwidth, so performance doesn't slow down even when all ports are occupied. Two diagnostic LEDs per port provide connection status at a glance.

The NetStation 8100 (eight ports) and NetStation 4100 (four ports) are available through Xircom's worldwide network of distributors, value-added resellers (VARs), catalogs, and online channels. The 8100 lists for $799; the 4100 for $499. Watch for wireless as well as combined wireless/wired versions of NetStation in the near future. To learn more, visit www.xircom.com/netstation.

Talking Schtick If you had 20 seconds to entice attendees to your conference, what would you say? That's the creative marketing dilemma posed by PageTalk, a free service that allows you to place a 20-second audio message on any Web site or e-mail signature.

PageTalk is essentially an icon-an audio play button-that can be placed on any application that supports HTML. Perhaps PageTalk's coolest feature-besides the price-is the simplicity with which messages are created and updated. It's all done over the telephone. Here's how it works: Once a visitor to the PageTalk Web site, www.pagetalk.com, signs up for the service, he or she is sent the HTML code and instructions needed to add the button to a Web page or e-mail signature, as well as an access code. After that, a user calls the toll-free number, punches in his or her access code, and follows voice prompts to record a message for the button. Users can have as many buttons as they want and can rerecord the messages as often as they want.

To hear the PageTalk message, users need to download RealAudio's RealPlayer to their computer.

Stick to the Script Cat got your executive's tongue? Script prompting is a good solution, but typically that involves one more outsourcing company that you have to hire and coordinate. Now, however, there are prompting products on the market that are economical--and small--enough to consider owning outright.

Line By Line Teleprompting, San Jose, Calif., introduced "the prez" earlier this year, a script prompting system that fits entirely in one suitcase, albeit at 70 lbs. it's not exactly a carry-on item. Line By Line sells prompting services to event planners by the day or half day, but it is marketing this new product directly to corporatie users.

The prez, compatible with both PC and Macintosh platforms, comes with a choice of a 14- or 15-inch monitor box; either one is just 4 inches high. The 14-inch model has VGA inputs, while the 15-inch version is available with VGA/NTSC inputs or just NTSC. The system can scroll text or PowerPoint presentations onto the clear prompter mirrors. Prices range from $4,995 to $6,900.

For more information, visit Line By Line's Web site, www.theprez.net, where you'll also find a list of 10 questions to consider before ordering prompting services.