A Full Plate at CIC Forum The Convention Industry Council chose to tackle technology and human resources as the meeting industry's top issues at its second Industry Forum. The first, held two year's ago in New York City, attracted a higher number of attendees than the 2000 Forum, which was held on December 13 at the J.W. Marriott in Washington, D.C.

The CIC, a council representing 26 associations in the meetings, conventions, and expositions fields, had as its mission that day "to provide an educational experience," according to Edwin L. Griffin Jr., CAE, president and CEO of Meeting Professionals International and chairman of the CIC.

Also on hand to welcome the 150 or so guests were Bill Marriott, who said the week of December 13 was the 44th anniversary of the opening of his mom and dad's first Marriott hotel - in Virginia, just next to National Airport (where bellmen would take luggage on bicycles to guests' rooms, which sold for $9 a night). Also greeting guests was Louis Dolley, head of the Washington, D.C., Convention Center, who outlined plans for the new D.C. convention center, set to open in 2003.

Tech's Emerging Trends Corbin Ball, CMP, founder, Corbin Ball Associates, and technology columnist for Association Meetings, spoke about the future of technology and its potential impact on meetings (for a full report, visit AM's Web site, www.meetingsnet.com, and type "Flash Forward" in the Key Word search section).

Ball cited two major emerging technology trends that will impact meetings: Broadband will make high-definition video technology available anywhere, including airports, convention centers, and hotels. And G3, or third-generation wireless applications, is a protocol that allows global high-bandwidth wireless Internet access. "Your cell phone will morph into a wireless palm device, a video camera, a video phone, a still camera, a Walkman, a pager, a television, a radio, a geo-positioner, a wireless Web browser, and much more," said Ball.

Ball also described a wireless networking device from Shockfish, already available, which allows you to enter your preferences and determine who around you, within a 20-foot radius and using the same device, matches those preferences. That technology provoked the most controversy during the day, particularly about privacy issues.

APEX Revisited Mickey Schaefer, chair of the APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Commission, gave an update on the CIC's APEX initiative, which was given the green light last summer. Its mission: to spearhead an industry-wide initiative that brings together all stakeholders in the development and implementation of industry-wide accepted practices throughout the meetings industry.

Although purely a voluntary effort, Schaefer said that "by working together to formulate these accepted practices, the industry will be more inclined to take advantage of the efficiencies that will be created.

"Just think," she added, "if the 81,000 members represented within the 26 CIC member organizations were to save less than a half an hour a week, at an average salary of $25 per hour, the industry could save more than $52 million a year."

Schaefer and CIC are currently recruiting an army of volunteers to form the APEX Commission, which will represent nine areas of the industry: transportation, housing, service contractors, facilities management, convention and visitor bureaus, food and beverage, convention/meetings management, exposition management, and convention services. They will be supported by panels and subcommittees, concentrating on seven key areas: terminology, history/post-event reports, RFPs, resumes and work orders, meeting and site profiles, housing, and contracts.

The CIC will begin to raise money to fund the APEX Commission and its initiative, and is asking for three-year commitments at a variety of levels: $100,000, $50,000, $25,000, $10,000, $3,000, or $300 (individual).

For more information on the APEX Initiative or any of the CIC activities, visit www.conventionindustry.org.

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