Tech Standards Begin to Catch On
APEX Initiative and Other Advancements Help Bring Consistency to Data Exchange
Since the mid-’90s, software developers have been
striving to standardize how meetings data is exchanged between
planners and suppliers. Today, with 1,200 programs in existence and
more on the way, the effort is beginning to have an impact.
Results from the Convention Industry Council’s Accepted
Practices Exchange (APEX) initiative, where best practices in all
facets of the planning process are being identified, now are being
translated into computer language that is easy for technology
developers to incorporate into programs.
Seven APEX panels are filtering information on everything from
meetings terminology to requests for proposal, résumés and work
orders. As the panels finish their work, the Technology Advisory
Council is codifying their forms.
“We’re working on meeting event orders and housing right now,”
said E.J. Siwek, president of Bethel, Conn.-based Flashpoint
Technologies and chair of the technology council. “Any meeting form
that uses fields such as ‘name’ and ‘address’ can be
The technology council is made up of representatives from
industry firms such as hotel-systems developer Newmarket
International, group-housing experts Passkey International, site
selection and meetings management company PlanSoft Corp., and hotel
companies that include Marriott International and Hyatt Corp.
“These are people who are able to change their products, to make an
impact with our results,” said Siwek.
Meanwhile, a crowded technology market continues to grow. San
Francisco-based Certain Software, which offers the Register123
product, released version 4.0 in June. Along with several new
reporting upgrades, the new version offers a room-matching feature
that lets planners and attendees set parameters for roommate
The Meeting Company in Franklin, Mass., a third-party planner,
has launched a proprietary, web-based event-management software
called PlanIT Platform to help its clients keep track of their
meetings. “I didn’t want to build this; I wanted to buy something,”
said Scott Young, president of the Meeting Company. “But nobody had
what we needed.”
According to Jeff Rasco, CMP, president of Wimberley,
Texas-based Attendee Management Inc., the reality of
standardization is that it can go only as far as forms such as RFPs
and banquet event orders.
“Standardization will happen up to a certain level. But
meeting planning is still such an individualistic business,” said
Rasco. “How I plan my meetings and communicate with my vendors and
client, and the creativity I bring to the process, is why you hire
me and not somebody else.”