The Insurance Conference Planners Association (ICPA) Forum, held in June at the Renaissance Chicago, provided a stage for the first complete unveiling of the nearly released Ajenis software product and the PlanSoft Network, designed to revolutionize the way meeting planners and hoteliers communicate.

As Tony Stanfar, director of development for the PlanSoft Ajenis Limited Partnership (a union of industry groups including Hyatt, Sheraton, Marriott, Meeting Professionals International, and the American Society of Association Executives) took the 45 planner attendees through various screens of the demo, questions came fast and furious.

Basically, this is what Ajenis promises: Meeting managers and hoteliers will be able to create and amend documents, such as resumes, banquet event orders, and (in the next release) rooming lists, electronically. In essence, they will work on the same "document," which will reside in a server, accessible by both parties. When one side makes a change, that change will show up the next time the other side pulls up the document. And Ajenis automatically creates a history file, listing every change to every document, including who made the change and when.

Nimble and intuitive, the Windows-based software allows planners to jump from a broad view of the year's conferences to a detailed look at the audiovisual setup for one breakout room in a few clicks of the mouse.

The official product launch, which continues to be pushed later, is now scheduled for first-quarter 1997. One cause for the delay is the lengthy process of all the hotels in the participating chains entering their specifications (rooms, audiovisual equipment, services) and pricing into the database on the PlanSoft Network server.

Where do future releases of PlanSoft hope to take you? To real-time videoconferencing for two or more meeting professionals, perhaps. For example, if you requested additional information on a property, you might have the option to connect with a hotel representative immediately.