One of the newest players attempting to solve the meeting industry's long-standing problems with convention housing, Passkey Systems Inc., in Quincy, Mass., has been endorsed by the International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus. At press time, the IACVB board was finalizing the agreement.

It's the latest in a string of successes for the two-year-old company. (See "Perfect Timing: A Case Study in Three Acts," June 1998 issue, page 40.)

Passkey, available to housing companies or the housing departments of convention bureaus, provides an interactive, centralized database that allows housing vendors, meeting planners, CVBs, and hotels to have online, real-time access to housing information. All parties can get up-to-the-minute reports on reservations and cancellations. And that information is available past the chronically troublesome cutoff date until the day of arrival.

Even before the IACVB partnership was announced, four CVBs had taken the leap. Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, and Orlando are currently using Passkey. Detroit and Seattle have decided to test the system. Passkey aims to have 17 cities signed on by the end of the first quarter of 1999, says Executive Vice President Brian Layton.

The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau picked Passkey because it offered a partnership relationship, rather than an outsourcing one, says Carey Rountree, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Atlanta CVB. "We could stay involved [with housing]," Rountree explains. "We have a partner doing the detail work, while increasing the amount of service we offer to our clients."

The cost, Rountree says, is absorbed by the hotels. But there is no problem there, he stresses. Hoteliers served on the housing selection team. "We made them part of the process. There is total buy-in."