Destination research topped the list for the second year running, although the percentage dropped from 83 in 2000 to 69 in 2001. The drop in part may be due to a wording change on the questionnaire (this year’s survey only asked how they were currently using the Internet; last year’s asked both how they were currently using it and how they planned to use it in the next 12 months).
Facility research also kept its second-most popular Internet usage status, with 53 percent saying they use the Web for this purpose. While this dropped from the 80 percent status it held last year, again, the change in wording may have been a factor. E-mail marketing jumped from sixth place in 2000 to third in 2001, perhaps because of new and improved event-marketing software that has hit the market recently.
Electronic RFPs, however, dropped in popularity; 35 percent respondents said they used them this year, as opposed to 57 percent last year. The change in wording may have factored into this response. More than half of respondents said they still are uncertain whether e-RFPs are a useful tool. Those using e-RFPs said they mostly used the ones provided by hotel chains, as opposed to the major providers of online services.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said they continue to collect registration information in the traditional way: a combination of fax, phone, and e-mail.
When asked what the single biggest challenge was in integrating technology into the management of meetings, the majority of responses fell into the following categories:
1. Members were not "technologically literate" or equipped, i.e., they don’t have computers and/or access to the Web.
2. Integrating various software programs and databases (the aforementioned "Holy Grail" issue).
3. Keeping up with the pace of technological development in a cost-effective way, i.e., how do you make an investment today that won’t be quickly outdated?
4. Money and training. As one respondent put it: "There’s never enough of either for many not-for-profit groups."