MPI Gives Planners the Tech-Edge Ben Franklin started the technology craze with that famous kite-flying in 1752. He chats about July's MPI meeting in Philadelphia with Edward Simeone, CMP, MPI chairman of the board-elect, and manager of worldwide events for EMC Corp.

Meeting Professionals International's Professional Education Conference (PEC) held in late January in Vancouver, B.C., is a perfect example of how in-person meetings can never be replaced by technology. A technology education track and a live Webcast of the opening and closing sessions were just two examples of how important technology has become to the meetings industry, but the experience of the record-breaking 2,185 attendees networking, learning, and being inspired--not only by dozens of excellent pre- senters but by the awesome beauty of the British Columbian coastline--could hardly be replicated online.

But MPI is taking every opportunity to give its members the tech advantage by offering new business alliances with several technology partners:

* Through this alliance with PlanSoft Corp., visitors to MPI's Web site now have immediate access to PlanSoft's facility database and electronic RFP service.

* Fusion Productions, the Webster, NY-based production/event company, and creator of MPI's Web site (www.mpi.org) is offering MPI members discounts on Web-related services, including Web site development.

* Eastman Kodak Company has become "an affinity partner." Kodak's "Meeting-in-a-Box" offers members the ability to purchase a package of products tailored to specific meeting needs. And Kodak will form a focus group of MPI members to develop new products for meetings and presentations.

* Through an arrangement with broadcast.com, MPI members are entitled to a 10 percent discount on live and archived meetings designed for the Internet or reproduced and broadcast live. --Betsy Bair

Now or Never

The Bauhinia flower decorates Hong Kong's flag.

"If you're ever going to hold a meeting in Hong Kong, now is the time to do it. The prices are never going to be as good as they are now," asserts Krys Luby, marketing executive, Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA).

Not only have costs fallen due to the Asian economic crisis, but Hong Kong has developed the Value Plus program as an additional enticement to meeting planners. About 40 hotels have signed on as participants, promising discounts of up to 50 percent on room rates. And those prices are guaranteed through the year 2000. The program should be particularly appealing to budget-conscious association planners, Luby says, because it offers a wide choice of three- and four-star hotels, as well as five-star properties.

HKTA also provides a support system for planners, Luby says. Staff will, for example, accompany planners on site inspections. "We're here to help," Luby stressed. For more information visit www.hkta.org/usa, or call HKTA's Chicago office at (312) 329-1828.