It's not just a program guide, it's a marketing tool. That was one of the clever features that grabbed the panel of editors about this year's winner of MM's Top Guides Contest, the guide produced by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

We were impressed with the design of the entire program package, which included a hefty but appealing Annual Meeting Proceedings and accompanying Final Program Guide, a 5-by-8-inch portable version (fig.1), packed with everything attendees needed to know in a tabbed, color-coded format.

But the clincher for us was a foldout, accordion-type pocket guide (fig.2) that, according to AAOS scientific program and registration manager Susan A. McSorley, was the most sought-after piece of literature at the event.

Contents of the AAOS Quick Planner were color-coded to extend the tracking theme of the proceedings guide and final program book. The Quick Planner folds into the size of a 3-by-5 index card (fig.3) that allowed attendees to slip it into a pocket, and was covered front and back with a durable, glossy cardboard stock. Called a Z-Card, McSorley saw the format in bus and train schedules.

The foldout used glossy paper as well, a practical element for those who may juggle a cup of coffee while perusing the guide. Based on feedback from a survey, however, McSorley says that next year the paper will be a plain stock because some attendees found it hard to write appointments and notes on glossy paper. One other suggestion from us: including course room numbers next time would be a bonus.

In a savvy marketing tactic to stimulate advance registration, McSorley says the Quick Planner was sent to advance registrants and was not available on site. After the conference, she sent the guide to members who didn't attend, with new offerings highlighted, to show them what they had missed.

Top Guide Particulars Organization: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Event: 1999 Annual Meeting

Site: Anaheim, Calif.

Dates: February 4 to 8

Budget: Quick Planner--$16,000 (Quantity: 14,000)

Annual Meeting Proceedings and Final Program--$110,000 (Quantity: 18,000)

Winning Team: Overall concept--S. Terry Canale, MD

Convention and Meeting Services Department--Carole Murphy, Susan McSorley, Kathy Fornelli, Cindy Tomala, Mary Jo Heflin, Kathie Niesen, Courtney Worrell, Lynn Haase

Marketing--Lewis Jenkins, Vanessa McCune, Shannon Connelley

Typesetting/Design--Phil Martin

Logo Design--J. Coleman Heckman