* Sports Travel Services, Inc., has released Version 3.1 of its PC-based STS Resort EXPRESS-Business Planning Edition software. Planners can now select properties by Mobil Travel Guide ratings, as well as the other national awards featured in previous versions

The software provides information on more than 700 resorts and meeting hotels in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Planners can search by location, hotel company, and meeting facility and accommodations needs.

* The Beverly Hilton has installed a TeleSuite in its Executive Business Center on the hotel's lobby level. The TeleSuite-originally unveiled at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and The Capital Hilton in Washington, DC-allows users in distant locations to experience life-size personal contact. All participants appear simultaneously on screen "just across the table." Hilton plans to expand its TeleSuite network to other U.S. properties.

* Incentive Automation recently introduced its Motivation Magic software, designed to plan and track incentive programs. The software lets users custom-design incentive programs with their own goals and measurement systems, track progress throughout the program, and report the results (the list of qualifiers) as well as the return on investment for the incentive program.

The software also includes an "Ideas" database with hundreds of award, recognition, and incentive ideas, along with an administrative checklist, program schedule timeline, Employee Update newsletter, employee feedback survey, and functions for charting program results. The Windows-based package is $399.95. Call (888) 858-0858.

The year was 1990. Bill Marriott had called his senior management team together. "I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "We can make payroll through April, maybe May. . . . Our 209,000 associates are counting on us, and we can't let them and their families down. It won't be easy, but I'm confident we can turn this thing around. . . . "

Roger Dow, vice president and general sales manager, Marriott Lodging, was in the room that day. The behind-the-scenes story of the financial woes at Marriott Hotels-and its dramatic turnaround-unfold in a new book by Dow and co-author Susan Cook, called Turned On: Eight Vital Insights to Energize Your People, Customers, and Profits (HarperBusiness).

Dow, known to his meetings and incentive clients as a customer-driven kind of guy, and to the business world at large as a popular speaker on customer service, turned to Cook, founder and president of Think Customer, six years ago to get Marriott Hotels back on track. It's just one of dozens of examples in the book of "turned on" organizations, all values-driven, that use eight basic principles to inspire employees and customers, and in turn boost profits.

While the book includes success stories of many well-known business giants, such as Mary Kay Cosmetics and Levi Strauss, there are also tales of less well-known organizations, such as Mid-Columbia Medical Center in Oregon, successful for its caring and humane approach to medicine; and an inner city neighborhood in Oakland, CA that dramatically decreased its crime rate when it turned to community policing.

Here are the eight vital insights to use as a road map to turning on: * Build a strong foundation

* Make every customer feel special

* Have the courage to set bold goals

* Simplify, simplify, simplify

* Make technology your servant

* Measure well, act fast

* Unleash the power of people

* Lead with care

* As of spring 1996, more than 80 U.S. insurance companies and 40 non-U.S. insurance companies had sites on the World Wide Web, according to the Life Insurance Marketing Research Association (LIMRA). Of the companies that have home pages, the primary reasons for creating them were company name recognition (63 percent), recruiting agents (nine percent), gaining Internet experience (nine percent), generating leads for agents (eight percent), and direct sales (three percent).

* The Life Communicators Association (LCA) is working on creating a designation program. To that end, LCA has mailed a survey to insurance company CEOs, COOs, and senior marketing and communications officers throughout North America, asking them to review suggested course topics and identify other issues or subjects that communicators should know to add value to their companies.

In other LCA news, the association recently released its Strategic Plan. For a copy, contact Terry Birdwell, First Colony Life, at (804) 948-5133. For general information about LCA, contact Peter Bruton, LCA Consultant, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario at (905) 468-5689.

* The Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and the General Agents and Managers Association (GAMA) recently formed the independent MDRT-GAMA Joint Mentoring Council. The eight-person Council, whose purpose is to increase the percentage of new life agents who succeed as career agents, met for the first time in mid-October to outline bylaws. A Joint Mentoring Pilot Study conducted in 1995 by MDRT and GAMA showed that new agents who are teamed with mentors may be more successful. For more information, call MDRT's Susan Gallicho at (847) 692-6378.

In other MDRT news, the average 1996 Round Table qualifier is a 49-year-old male. MDRT's female membership increased by 152 members this year to 2,651 members, representing 14 percent of total membership.

* CEOs at the country's largest publicly held insurance companies earn an average base salary of $811,000 plus median annual incentives totaling $775,000, and long-term incentive pay worth $814,000, according to the Towers Perrin "Insurance Company Executive Compensation Study," which looked at the compensation of CEOs at 25 insurance companies.

* The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies recently released the Special Events Risk Management Handbook, designed for anyone planning a corporate event, from picnics to golf tournaments to circus performances. The handbook helps planners identify vulnerabilities in events of all sizes. For a free copy, call (908) 903-7078.

* Two new publications, both from LIMRA, are available to help insurance companies forge ahead in this era of greater public scrutiny of market conduct. The Business Practices Index is a screening tool designed to help companies contract with only those producers who are most likely to use appropriate sales practices. The tool works by having candidates complete a PC-based questionnaire that touches on their attitudes toward issues such as rule-breaking, disciplining irresponsible behavior, personal honesty, and workplace theft. For information, call Monica Buckley at (860) 298-3961.

Also from LIMRA comes a white paper called "Beyond the Wave-Market Conduct in a Market Sea Change." The paper details changes that insurance companies are making to their selection and training processes, compensation systems, sales materials, and management oversight as a response to cost and competition pressures, including issues of market conduct. This is a followup to 1995's "Market Conduct: A Global Tidal Wave," which encouraged companies to take steps to address market conduct. For information, call Nancy Boynton, the paper's author, at (860) 285-7746.