Connecting with your attendees is the name of the game, and two facility-based technologies offer a glimpse into leading-edge, on-site meeting communications.

At Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Fla., iConnect, an in-house creation, has been operating in the resort's 1,406 guest rooms for about six months. The system gives attendees free Internet access (on a 15-inch, flat-screen monitor with a full-size mouse and keyboard) and the ability to send instant messages to other guests (as long as they know their name or room number), order housekeeping and valet services, and get information on local attractions.

More importantly, iConnect allows meeting organizers to communicate with their attendees — or any particular slice of attendees. Planners can post their daily agendas, send instant messages with updates or changes, or use the surveying tools to ask for feedback while company issues are still fresh in attendees' minds.

Gaylord also touts the system's revenue-generating potential — groups can sell banner ads on the site or allow sponsors to send messages. A virtual trade show function is also being tested.

For the 1,700 attendees — insurance salespeople and their guests — at Brown & Brown Inc.'s recent sales meeting, iConnect allowed meeting organizer Doug Hudson, director, corporate communications and investor relations, to welcome attendees with an e-letter from the company's chairman, provide agenda information, and direct them to registration. It was also nice, he said, for attendees to stay connected even if they left their laptops at home, and while he did not use the system's free surveying capabilities or need to instant message attendees with schedule changes, he was glad it was there. The expansion of iConnect to Gaylord properties in Nashville and Grapevine, Texas, is still being discussed.