by Sarah J.F. Braley | October 01, 2005

In the heady ’90s, when tech jobs were juicy plums for the picking, companies sprang up offering meetings management software, and new features arrived almost daily. When the bubble burst, experts predicted a mass consolidation of meetings technology solutions. They were wrong. While some mergers did take place, hundreds of choices for managing meetings, members and attendees now exist. Determining which program is right for you can be harrowing.
    Below is a sampling of 10 comprehensive packages, available either as stand-alone applications or online through an application service provider (ASP) model. These products offer a little bit of everything: event and attendee management, reporting, online registration and more.

Amlink Technologies; (800) 869-7166

This Australian company’s main product is Events Pro, but it recently merged with Peopleware Pro, a longtime favorite of many U.S.-based planners, making Peopleware a subsidiary of Amlink. While the latter will continue to support Peopleware’s current version for two years and the new version 2.8 (due in the fall) indefinitely, the company’s focus is on Events Pro.
    Features: Planners choose from 13 modules to turn Events Pro into the program they need. The elements are demographics, notes, marketing, registration, functions, housing, travel, CRS interface, speakers, exhibition, financial, project management and report writing. The accompanying Events Interactive program adds online registration; it handles both attendee registrations and abstract submissions.
    Pricing: Call for details.

Certain Software; (888) 237-8246

Popular as soon as it was released, Certain’s Event Planner Plus was software for a one-person shop. Then came Meeting Planner Plus for multiple users. Now Certain’s main product is Register123, which marries a robust online registration package with the meetings management features that made Meeting Planner Plus a favorite.
    “Our product is for large events, 500 people or more,” says David Ujita, the San Francisco-based company’s director of marketing. “We feel Register123 offers the most ability to create a custom look and feel [for online pages], through a Microsoft HTML tool.”
    Upcoming innovations will include the ability to integrate travel management data with Register123, and a more comprehensive budgeting tool. The system is being expanded to cross-compile budgeting data with several customer relationship management systems.
    Features: Register123 offers customizable templates and wizards for creating meeting websites offering online registration, housing and real-time payment processing. Other elements are the room block management and roommate matching tools, marketing and e-mail tools, and customizable reports.
    Pricing: The program is sold in an online ASP version or as a dedicated portal, which Certain hosts for $2 to $2.50 per registration. Clients also can buy Register123 as an enterprisewide solution for $15,000 to $50,000, based on the anticipated number of registrants processed each year.