My e-mail connection went down a few days ago. Did I get a little upset? Feel a little helpless? Want to hit something? Yes, to all three. It's amazing that something I didn't even have until 18 months ago is now so vital to my daily existence that a single day without it is a major inconvenience.

I'm not alone. Technology has made a major impact on the meeting and hospitality industries. While we might not yet be taking advantage of all the new technology that's out there, we are making headway. In our SCMP Roundtable discussions, we have found that using e-mail to communicate about reservations, meeting room layouts, banquet orders, and program agendas is preferred by most hotel convention service managers and corporate executives. Most CSMs don't even care that e-mail precludes the meeting executive from filling out the hotel's standard forms. What they do care about is getting the information in a timely manner.

Technology and its impact on our industry is always a topic at SCMP conferences. Our Spring Idea Faire, held in May, featured topics on electronic communication, World Wide Web hyperlinks, and the soft introduction of our own SCMP Web site.

However, while electronic communication is vital, it will never replace face-to-face interaction. A handshake and a personal relationship cannot be electronically reproduced. Our SCMP motto, "Excellence Through Interaction," says it all. The relationships you build and the experiences you share with your hospitality partners are what count.

AN SCMP MEMBER STORY MARY L. BORNAMANN, CMP KELLOGG COMPANY Mary Bornamann is a natural at meeting planning--she loves to travel, she's great with details, and she enjoys pleasing others. But it took 10 years with Kellogg Company before she realized this.

"I started with the company in 1977 in the customer service department. In November of 1986 the meeting planning and travel services department was born," says Bornamann, now corporate meeting planner for the Battlecreek, Mich.-based cereal company. She transferred to the new department as assistant meeting planner in 1987, moving into her current position three years later.

The two-person department relies on outsourcing to help plan 600 meetings a year. During the past decade, Kellogg's increasing demand for meetings has also caused Bornamann to turn to technology for assistance. In June the department will begin using a comprehensive new meeting planning software (Planning Partner and Meeting Partner from Travel Technologies Group Software). "The software will allow us to do everything from planning menus to estimating budgets," she says. "It includes all the necessary nuts and bolts, from A to Z, for planning a meeting."

According to Bornamann, checking and double-checking the quality of venues is one of a meeting executive's top priorities. "I always inspect restaurants, even if they are recommended to me," she explains. "It is important to make sure that you are never locked into a bad situation."

When she's not wrapped up in site inspections and does manage to squeeze in some personal time, Bornamann likes to take off--literally. "I always go overseas for vacations," she laughs. "This way, I am gone and out of the country in every literal sense!"