“We want APEXto be the ‘Intel inside,’” said Terri Breining, chairwoman of the Convention Industry Council's APEX (Accepted Practices Exchange) Initiative. Breining, CMP, CMM, president, Concepts Worldwide Inc., Carlsbad, Calif., and her colleagues from CIC announced an upgraded version of the APEX Meeting and Event Toolbox, version 2.0. It updates the more than 200 event management and business templates that interface with Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and were released in version 1.0 of the Toolbox last summer. Approximately 6,000 toolboxes have been distributed.

The APEX initiative includes accepted practices in references, terms, documents, and templates that have been written by volunteers from every segment of the meeting industry over the past five years. The release of 2.0 “is the next step in making APEX ubiquitous in the world of meeting and event planning,” said Breining. She said she expects the APEX tools eventually to become so accepted that even occasional planners will use them.

The new version of the toolbox offers a bigger variety of request-for-proposal templates; an improved room list template; enhanced navigation; default event and user profiles; and six additional help file lessons.

The final work of the APEX panel, which will include accepted practices in contracts, is winding down, added Breining. “The next phase is about educating the world and getting APEX to ‘live inside.’” To that end, APEX has created an Education Advisory Board that will promote and educate the industry through CIC member organizations as well as colleges and universities. Richard Aaron, CMP, CSEP, president, BiZBash Media, will be chairman of the nine- to 10-member council.

The council is developing a comprehensive data map and associated XML language for use by industry developers that will parallel the forms in the tool set. Within the next year, all the data that a facility must now re-key when a planner sends it will be mapped. Although it will take some time for hotels to adopt it, eventually the two parties will achieve an “electronic handshake,” says E.J. Siwek, president, FlashPoint Technologies and chairman of the APEX Technology Advisory Council. All major hotel chains and technology companies in the meeting space sit on the council and have “recognized the huge efficiencies in electronic business processing,” said Siwek.

Those who have version 1.0 of the APEX toolbox and had registered it by July 1 can upgrade to version 2.0 free. Users of version 2.0 must register to receive future free upgrades. Others can purchase it for $99 as a download through the conventionindustry.org site. CD-ROMs will be available in a few months.

RCMA 2007 will offer a tutorial on how to get the most out of APEX. (See page 30 for details).