The International Association for Exhibition Management will not be changing its name — for the time being.

At the annual meeting in December in Atlanta, IAEM leadership had presented members with a motion to change the group's name to the International Association for Exhibitions & Events. Leaders say the proposed name better reflects the group's strategic plan to broaden the scope of the organization to include all aspects of the exhibition industry, in particular the growing corporate exhibitions and events area.

But the motion to change the name quickly met with contention, as many members said they were unaware of a possible name change. Paper ballots were nonetheless cast at the luncheon business meeting, but leaders that night at the closing banquet declared the vote invalid because they said there had not been enough votes to establish a quorum. IAEM president Steven Hacker, CAE, acknowledged at a press conference at the meeting that there had been no communication to members specifically stating that a name change was going to be voted on at the annual meeting.

One change that appears likely to happen before then: The boards of IAEM and the Center for Exhibition Management announced an agreement to merge the two groups. The process is under way, and will likely be completed before the end of February, Hacker said. Outgoing IAEM chairman Chris Brown said in a prepared press release: “The proposed consolidation with CEIR will allow IAEM members greater access to more in-depth research from CEIR…Effective January 1, 2006, all IAEM members will have full access to all of the research data and publications produced by CEIR.”

IAEM's annual meeting drew 2,143 attendees — nearly 400 more people than last year's annual meeting in San Antonio. The keynote speaker at the opening session, Rep. Donald Mazullo, R-Ill., urged the group to push for reform of U.S. visa policies, which, he said, are making it increasingly difficult for foreigners to visit this country.

A panel of top executives from several major hotel chains, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, as well as a representative from MGM Las Vegas, predicted the seller's market would likely strengthen through 2006 and into 2007, thanks largely to the limited growth of new room supply over that period and the continued growth of demand from all industry sectors. Consequently, those planners who downsized their room blocks in contracts signed in the last couple of years (in response to high attrition fees incurred from registrants booking outside the block to take advantage of lower hotel rates offered by Internet-based travel companies) will likely encounter difficulty getting the rooms they need for upcoming meetings, said panelists. “And when people can't get rooms near the convention, there's a high risk that attendance will suffer,” said Marriott International's senior vice president of field sales, Mike Beardsley.