by Jonathan Vatner | May 01, 2006

Mickey Schaefer

 

 

Mickey Schaefer

The McLean, Va.-based Convention Industry Council’s Accepted Practices Exchange (APEX) is fast approaching the day it begins nationwide implementation.
    The content of APEX -- the CIC’s initiative to develop accepted practices across the meetings industry -- is almost complete. A sixth section, on meeting and site profiles, is set for approval by the end of this month, and the last section, on contracts, will be in place as early as June.
    After that, the focus turns to implementing the accepted practices. By the end of the year, 7,000 fields of data from the seven sections will be transferred to an XML Datamap, which will allow hotel chains to use the information in their computer systems. Gaylord Hotels will be the guinea pig for incorporating the practices into its systems; most other major chains will soon follow.
    The APEX Meeting & Event Toolbox by OfficeReady, the program that will allow meeting planners to use the accepted practices, also has been evolving. It’s name originally was APEX OfficeReady for Meeting and Event Planning, but “people were shorthanding it and saying APEX OfficeReady,” said Mickey Schaefer, Tucson, Ariz.-based chair of the APEX commission through the end of the year. The new moniker, she added, now is informally called APEX Toolbox and “is much more descriptive.”
    An updated version of the Toolbox will come out this spring, with more templates and refined features. Meeting planners can buy the package at www.conventionindustry.org for $99.95; as promised, planners who own the first version will be given the update for free. Proceeds from Toolbox sales will fund updates to APEX and the Toolbox, according to Schaefer.
    If the office won’t pay for it, planners might want to hold out for a free copy of the program. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts has purchased 4,000 copies of the APEX Toolbox to distribute to clients, and convention and visitor bureaus are buying them as well; for example, the Detroit Metro CVB gave away 50 copies at a recent client luncheon.
    The hardest segment of the industry to reach will be planners themselves, because they are so dispersed, said Mary Power, president and CEO of the CIC. “We’re working with SmithBucklin and Conferon, but after that, you’ve got to hit the planners by onesies, twosies.”
    Meeting professionals cannot rest on their laurels, Schaefer emphasized. “All the different hotels and facilities will be requesting electronic-based information down the road. Planners can choose to stay true to their paper-based forms, but they’ll be left behind.”