To use a term from the sixties, associations are made up of the best and the brightest this country has to offer. We must go all out and tell America about the diverse benefits of associations," said David N. Parker, CAE, president of the Aluminum Association in Washington, DC, during his first speech as the new American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) chairman of the board. Installed during the final general session at ASAE's 77th annual meeting held July 26 to 29 at the newly expanded McCormick Place in Chicago, Parker announced ambitious goals.

His first priority is to select a search committee to find a new president. Current ASAE president R. William Taylor, CAE announced his resignation earlier this year. The next president, said Parker, "needs to be an ardent advocate for our profession. It's a big marketing job--and a bigger communications challenge."

Parker also plans to convene three association leadership summits, focusing on the media, public policy, and technology. Another profile-raising project will be a campaign to establish an American Associations Day, to be a focus for events held by associations around the country. The purpose, said Parker is to "demonstrate [associations'] messages, energize associations, and gain the attention of key leaders in the political arena."

Associations got another boost from keynote speaker Steve Forbes, former U.S. presidential candidate, president and CEO of Forbes, Inc., and editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine. Associations have played an important role in American history, Forbes noted, quoting 19th-century French historian Alexis de

Tocqueville's observation that associations were an extraordinary source of energy in America.

Addressing the challenges faced by association executives today, Forbes drew audience applause when he outlined his flat tax plan and condemned the current tax code as "an abomination." Adding a high-tech fillip to his appearance, Forbes' speech was downlinked to seven Marriott hotels across the country.

Association executives got the chance to express their perspective during the first general session. About 800 people were surveyed using an IRIS wireless audience-polling device. The majority of the respondents (38 percent) said their primary objective in attending was maintaining professionalism. Close to half the respondents said their biggest concern was that time pressures and competing demands negatively affected their performances. As for their future hopes, 42 percent said they wanted access to education and ideas whenever, wherever, and however they chose.

ASAE Chicago 1997 drew 5,484 attendees, including 2,562 association executives. ASAE Nashville 1998 will be held at the Opryland Hotel Convention Center from August 16 to 18.

After the Changeover: IACVB Convenes in Hong Kong A colorful lion dance kicked off the opening ceremonies of the Annual Convention and Asia-Pacific Trade Mission of the International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus (IACVB) in Hong Kong--only the third time the 84-year-old IACVB has met outside North America.

The dance was meant to bring good fortune to those convening July 19 to 22. More significant, however, was the fact that only 20 days earlier the British colony of Hong Kong reverted to its original sovereign--China--in ceremonies that took place in the very same building, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. IACVB was the first U.S.-based hospitality association to meet in Hong Kong after the changeover.

At the opening ceremonies, Mike Wilson, chairman of IACVB and president of the Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau, spoke of the historic occasion and the chance for CVBs to experience the "global diversity of its membership." Amy Chan, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA), welcomed attendees and remarked on the auspiciousness of the occasion. Chan was the driving force behind the Asia-Pacific Trade Mission, which brought 100 travel buyers from the region to meet with bureau executives on the last day of their meeting.

But it was The Honourable Sir Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen, OBE, JP, financial secretary, Hong Kong, the last Hong Kong official to be knighted by Queen Elizabeth II before the handover, that IACVB attendees and 40 members of the Asian press came to hear. He reassured the audience that the Chinese government intended to maintain the status quo in Hong Kong.

"There is full support of government in tourism activities," Tsang said, amid photographers' flashes. "There may be prophets of doom and gloom who predict Hong Kong's star will fade. But I earnestly believe such predictions are ill-founded, oversimplistic."

About 140 convention and visitor bureau delegates, with guests, speakers, staff, and sponsors bringing the number to approximately 275, attended the convention.

The IACVB delegates traveled to Macau on the second day, a mere one-hour trip by jet foil, for a joint meeting with the Asian Association of CVBs.

The HKTA also arranged dazzling evening events, including a harbor cruise and dinner at the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

Hong Kong: Open for Business Chan said at the opening ceremonies that Hong Kong is at the forefront of an Asian economic boom. She pointed to the doubling of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (now 2.67 million square feet); the construction of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, which will handle 35 million passengers a year when it opens in 1998; and 45,000 new hotel rooms coming online by the year 2000 as signs of Hong Kong's continued economic viability. In addition, an international exposition center has been proposed to open in 2001 or 2002.

"We've enjoyed more than our fair share of publicity," added Ellen Kwan, general manager, tourism & convention marketing, HKTA, in a separate interview. But Kwan pointed out that handling the massive media coverage and troupes of dignitaries and tourists during the changeover was good experience for the island's hospitality community.

The summer months and late December through early March are traditionally slow periods in Hong Kong. "But," Kwan stressed, "there are rooms to be had year-round, even in the short term." Hotel occupancy has dipped since the changeover, and reportedly hotel rates as well.

AACVB Establishes Web Site The ten member countries of the AACVB--China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand--met for their annual convocation in Macau at the Tourism Activities Centre starting on

July 17. The AACVB enacted a five-year business plan, which calls for a permanent secretariat to be established by the year 1999. Currently, the secretariat is housed at the Macau Government Tourism Office. Full-time, fully funded management will enable the organization, which exists to promote, sell, and service meetings and incentives to and in Asia, to prove tourism's economic viability to the region.

AACVB endorses education courses put on by the Society of Incentive and Travel Executives, and will create a master list of training courses, to be published at its new Web site, www.aacvb.org.

IACVB Head Jordan Resigns Delegates returned home from the IACVB meeting to find that Karen Jordan, president and CEO of IACVB, was resigning. Stating that "it became too difficult to carry on a 1,200-mile relationship," referring to the distance separating the IACVB office and her family in Texas. Jordan will remain head of the association until a replacement can be found. Charles Ahlers, IACVB secretary and president of the Anaheim/Orange County Visitors & Convention Bureau is the chair of a search committee. --Betsy Bair

HCEA Sails to Success "Set Sail for Exhibit Success," the 1997 annual meeting of the Healthcare Convention & Exhibitors Association (HCEA), held June 22 to 25 in Tampa, FL, drew more than 600 attendees and 100 exhibitors. At 50 educational sessions, roundtables, and panel discussions, participants addressed topical issues such as managed care and the global marketplace.

The role of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was another focus of interest in a session led by Minnie Baylor-Henry, RPh, JD, director, division of drug marketing, advertising, and communications, FDA. As reported in HCEA's newsletter, Insight, Baylor-Henry spoke about regulating the promotion of pharmaceutical products and medical devices on the Internet. While the FDA is exploring the legalities, Baylor-Henry explained that the FDA's current position is that product information promoted on the Internet is subject to the same regulations as materials distributed by other means, and that companies are responsible for complying with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Regarding the promotion of pharmaceutical products at international meetings held in the U.S., Baylor-Henry clarified that the FDA does have the authority to regulate promotional activities involving products already approved in the U.S., or those likely to be approved in the forseeable future. While the FDA technically has the authority to enforce these regulations overseas, it will not be doing so. She added that the FDA will issue guidance on the subject.

David A. Shore, PhD, director, center for continuing professional education and an assistant dean at Harvard University School of Public Health, led a session on meeting trends, analyzing the results of Medical Meetings' fourth annual physicians preferences survey (see the January/February 1997 issue).

HCEA's 1998 annual meeting is scheduled for June 7 to 10 at the Palm Springs (CA) Convention Center.

MedTrade 97 Heads for the Big Easy Medtrade, the largest medical products trade show in the U.S., has outgrown its 18-year tenure at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. This year, it will be held from October 7 to 10 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New

Orleans. Show organizer Semco Productions is offering new features in response to attendee feedback. The 1st annual Wound Care Conference, led by Tamara Fishman, DP, director of the Wound Care Institute in North Miami Beach, FL, will address clinical and business issues related to wound care management. Another first will be the Medtrade Resell exhibition area, where hospital purchasers can shop for used medical equipment.

Medtrade On-Line, the virtual trade show at www.medtrade.com , allows visitors to access product information and place orders year-round.

International Planners: Educate! The second annual Beyond Borders Conference for buyers and suppliers of international meetings and incentives will be held March 31 to April 1, 1998 at the New York Hilton in New York, NY.

Co-sponsored by Adams/Laux Publishing, publisher of this magazine and four other meeting publications, and PGI, a global events, entertainment, exhibitions, and business communications company, the education forum has been redesigned based on attendee evaluations from the 1997 event.

"More interactive programs and more discussion time have been built into the 1998 program," says Ann Boehme, CMP, conference chairperson, and president of Meetings Management and Techniques, Valley Stream, NY.

The program will begin at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31 and close on April 1 at 4 p.m. It will include panels, case studies, and technical experts on topics including site selection, previewing and hiring entertainment for events, shipping, risk management, negotiations and contracts, money matters, health and safety, technology, and culture shock.

Registration for planners is $225 and, for suppliers, $350. For more information, call Ann Boehme at (516) 561-4223; fax (516) 872-6397.

PlanSoft Up; Ajenis Set for 1998 Launch PlanSoft's site-selection and contact engine is up and running in preview mode, and open to the public at www.plansoft.com. Membership is free to planners. In its first week the site received 31,000 hits, and PlanSoft currently has 140 members, says Edward J. Tromczynski, PlanSoft president. "We have about $2.5 billion in buying power," he asserts.

PlanSoft/Ajenis, based in Twinsburg, OH, is a joint venture of PlanSoft Partners--Hyatt Hotels Corporation, ITT Sheraton Corporation, Marriott International, The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), and Meeting Professionals International (MPI).

As for the eagerly anticipated Ajenis software, which will allow planners and suppliers to electronically exchange meeting data, Tromczynski says that versions are currently being tested, with beta testing scheduled to begin at the end of October. He predicts a product rollout in he first quarter of 1998.

What PlanSoft Offers You Now At PlanSoft's site you can now search for hotels, convention centers, or conference centers by location (region, state, or metro area), number of rooms, size of largest and next-largest meeting room, and by amount of dedicated exhibit space. Other search parameters include hotel chain (a wide selection--not just the PlanSoft Partners) and "locale" (downtown, resort, airport, etc.) A real bonus is a navigation bar for contacts, where you can find hotel salespeople's names, titles, telephone and fax numbers, and, where applicable, e-mail addresses.

There is a great deal more to the site, including links to professional organizations and meetings publications (like the Adams/Laux publications). Future additions will include an electronic RFP function, and a database of AV suppliers, destination management companies, and professional meeting planning firms.

--David Erickson

MPI Annual Meeting Celebrates 25 Years A heavy dose of nostalgia and a sprinkle of inspiration made for a successful 25th anniversary celebration as 2,421 Meeting Professionals International (MPI) members gathered in Baltimore in early August. The annual World Education Congress was just that--a celebration--with countless awards and ceremonies, some hilarious 25-year-old photos of MPI's leaders, and many of the organization's founding members in attendance.

For added inspiration, keynote speaker Jack Kemp, former U.S. congressman and Republican presidential candidate, spoke of the excitement of the new millennium; and Mount Everest climbers Alan Hobson and Jamie Clarke captivated the audience with the story of their unbelievable journey.

Among the other highlights of the World Education Congress: * Anna Lee Chabot, CMP, took her place as the organization's new president, replacing Kitty Ratcliffe. Chabot is head of the meetings and assemblies section for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

* MPI announced that its Certificate in Meetings Management (CMM) program for industry professionals will be offered worldwide. The certification, which is targeted to address the needs of experienced meeting planners, was originally designed for the European market.

* MPI and the Disney Institute announced that they will create an educational program to be offered exclusively to MPI members.

* MPI promoted its new WEC WOW (World Education Congress WithOut Walls), a Web site that lets browsers view the meeting highlights online. It's located at www.mpiweb.org.

* Corbin Ball, CMP, was awarded the Marion D. Kershner Memorial Chapter Leader Award (formerly the Chapter Leader of the Year Award); Margaret A. Moynihan, CMP, was awarded the 1997 Meeting Professional Award, Planner Category; Carol Krugman, CMP, and Lori Rogel, CMP, were the recipients of the 1997 Meeting Professional Award, Tomorrow's Leader category; and J. William Boyd, CMP, was awarded the 1997 Meeting Professional Award, Supplier Category. --Barbara Scofidio

San Francisco and Orlando CVBs Forge Partnership If you're a planner in the Chicago area considering booking conventions in Orlando and San Francisco, you can now meet with one rep at one time.

The San Francisco and Orlando/Orange County (FL) Convention & Visitors Bureaus have formed a first-of-its-kind marketing alliance, opening a joint office in Chicago. The office is staffed by two salespeople, who each represent both locations.

Though it is much too soon to assess the venture's success, early response from planners' has been very positive, says John A. Marks, president and CEO, San Francisco CVB. "We think it will save meeting planners time," he says. The two bureaus are not worried about competition, because associations tend to rotate meetings, one year going west, the next going east, Mark says.

Have the two bureaus started a trend? The partnership has sparked great interest among bureaus. "It's no different from what is going on in the private sector and even in the association community, where strategic alliances are formed to make organizations more efficient," says William C. Peeper, director and CEO, Orlando/Orange County CVB. "The industry has to do more of this kind of thing."

Housing Vendor Drops CVB Clients In yet another eruption on the housing landscape, WorldTravel Partners in Atlanta, a private housing vendor, has decided not to renew its contracts with convention and visitors bureaus. WorldTravel had handled housing for CVBs in San Diego, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and San Francisco.

CVBs are caught in the middle between hotels and customers, says Jack Alexander, CEO, WorldTravel Partners. "To keep the cost per transaction low, most CVBs are offering a low-cost service model. This model just doesn't work," Alexander says. WorldTravel will continue to provide housing directly to association clients.

The San Francisco CVB will continue to outsource housing and has contracted with International Travel Service, Inc. (I.T.S.) in Deerfield, IL. "The decision was easy," says Doug Neilson, vice president, convention divisions. "I.T.S. has bureau experience in Chicago and New Orleans, and truly knows the convention business. Many of our clients are already using its services. Our hotels are happy about it, our clients are happy."

The San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau has contracted with Housing On-line in Las Vegas in what it is calling "an interim housing solution," says Christine Shimasaki, CMP, vice president, sales and marketing, San Diego Convention Center. "We are thoroughly evaluating whether we would better serve our customers by bringing operations in-house or by continuing our contractual relations [with Housing On-Line]," she explains.

Shimasaki pointed out that Housing On-Line's parent company, Epic Enterprises, is based in San Diego.

Neilson and Shimasaki declined to comment on whether the new arrangements affected cost structures.

American Airlines Announces Association Fares Planners who designate American Airlines and American Eagle as their official carriers will now have more flexibility in fare discounts. Under the new AAssociation Fares program, planners can choose either zone fares or discounts (five percent off the lowest applicable fares; ten percent off full coach fares)-or they can let attendees make their own choices.

Attendees who book early (60 days or more ahead) will receive an additional five percent discount, in order to "help associationsboost pre-registration," says Glenn Orcutt, product manager, First Call sales and marketing, American Airlines.

The program was developed with input from association planners. Orcutt explains that instead of offering associations the same program that other customers use, "and saying, 'take it or leave it,' we wanted to develop a product just for them." For more information, call 800-AA1-CALL.

Croatia Waives Visa Requirements The Croatian National Tourist Office in the U.S. has announced that Croatia will no longer require entry visas for visitors from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel.

There has been a 33 percent increase in tourism over the past 12 months, with U.S. tourism accounting for a big part of that increase. This new ruling aims to make it easier for planners to book meetings in Croatia, and shows that Croatia is interested in drawing more meetings business.

Site Inspection Service Readers of Medical Meetings magazine can now set up their own site inspections of hotels, resorts, conference centers, and destinations, via our Web site. Go to http://www.meetingsnet.com, click on SIR (Site Inspection Register), and follow the simple instructions.

Correction Noted In the 1997 edition of Beyond Borders, in the sidebar "ATA Carnet," we incorrectly stated that there is an additional charge of $100 for each $1,000 of the deposit. The additional charge is $10, not $100. *