Patricia Robertson
National Director of Conferences Community Bible Study Inc. Herndon, Va.

About five years ago, we brought in a system that does online registration. We have a membership system and need to tie registration into membership. We hired someone to write programs for us. The online registration is working well for us. About 85 percent of our attendees register online.

The only thing that I think would be helpful would be an easy way to get low rates for conference travel. We pay all expenses for attendees to attend, as a way to thank them and provide training. It's such a headache. We usually line up contracts with major airlines, and they are getting less productive. Then we send people to Orbitz and Travelocity to select the lowest rate. And we reimburse them or use a business credit card. It's a frustrating and complicated process for us.

Heidi Domke
Director Young Professionals Ministry Portland, Ore.

I think probably the biggest thing would be to have all computerized registration. We've had some online registration functionality. One of the biggest barriers is the cost of Internet services. If at the convention location you want to have registration available and use online and credit card processing, it is usually extremely expensive to set up. A conference I was at recently charged $500 a day for the Internet connection, and it was slow and went out sometimes. It was highway robbery and a substandard product.

Tricia Feralio
Ministry Relations Administrative Assistant Peacemaker Ministries Billings, Mont.

The biggest thing we have used, that has been valuable, is telephone conferencing. That seems to be a great tool. Also, a lot of our communication is done through e-mail. We have a Web site that attendees can use to register. That is probably a huge tool for us, at least from the customer perspective and communicating good information to us.

The other tool that we might consider is virtual conferencing, but because of its cost, it's not a practical tool for us. I recently took a class about meeting alternatives. That was one of the tools that came up. I don't see as much appeal, however, as there is with an actual phone conference.

It comes down to what you're most familiar with, most comfortable with. Everyone has a phone, but with other models you would need special computer equipment that not everyone has.

Jack W. Ready
Director of Business Louisiana Baptist Convention Alexandria, La

This year we did a pilot program with our convention, running it over our network so that anyone could view it. We included all of the convention, four meetings on Monday night, Tuesday morning, Tuesday afternoon, and Tuesday night. Now we're going to do it very year.

At our annual convention we may have 1,300 to 1,400 “messengers” (which we call them rather than delegates) of the churches, but we have approximately 1,600 Southern Baptist Churches in Louisiana, so we're trying to get more people involved. We were greatly surprised because the number of people who viewed the convention electronically was positive.

Pam Burris
V.P. of Development Overseas Council International Greensboro, N.C.

When I do spreadsheets for rooming lists and send them to the hotel, I would love to see technology that allows the hotels to get the rooming list right.

Sometimes they have their own form, which we will use. I don't know if it's the workers at hotel or if there could be some standard program from hotel to hotel. Some take my list and put it into their own program.

As far as helping someone with coming up with a system that hotels could use for rooming lists, that would be a big help.