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10.19.98  
A Fast Way to Book Out-of-Town Meetings
EventSource finds the best spot, right down to the leather chairs

The next time you're planning a meeting with clients out of town, pay a visit to EventSource (www.eventsource.com). The Web site lets you feed in the details of your meeting and then searches through its database of 8,000 conference hotels around the world to pinpoint ones that can handle your event. With another few clicks, you can book the whole thing.

The free service asks for the particulars of your dog-and-pony show -- the type of event, dates, acceptable cities, number of attendees and rooms, food and drink, receptions, and other agenda details -- along with your budget for the event. Back comes an initial list of potential spots, and within 48 hours, you get a full list of options with hotel names.

If you've ever tried, you know that doing it yourself can be daunting. Just ask Lisa Dennis, president of Knowledgence Associates in Cambridge, Mass., who says EventSource saved her marketing consultancy three weeks of time and up to $4,000 when a client asked her to research venues for a 200-person conference. The client wanted a list of 25 or 30 hotels and demanded that the meeting rooms all have high ceilings and leather chairs. EventSource got her the information in four days. "It would have been impossible by myself," Dennis says. "It was a huge cost savings for me and the client."

But if you insist, dedicated do-it-yourselfers can hit the "Event Sites" button, which lets you search by city and specific hotel name. EventSource pulls up a brief description of each hotel, sales reps to contact for bookings, floor plans, and an interactive map showing you where the hotel is located. There are also details about the size of each conference room. Unfortunately, only 10% of the listings have floor plans, and only 30% have photographs of the hotel.

If you'd rather attend an event than host one, go to the "Trade Shows" section, which tracks industry fairs, seminars, and conferences that will be held around the world through 2002. Chances are, your travel budget will be exhausted long before you come to the end of the list.

By Jeremy Quittner in New York
Jeremy_Quittner@businessweek.com

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