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Does the speaker want a podium or a lectern? It makes a big difference to the speaker, and could be a costly error for event staff. The Accepted Practices Exchange — or APEX — is a five-year initiative by the Convention Industry Council to establish voluntary, standardized business practices within the multi-faceted event and exhibition industry. McLean, Va.-based CIC consists of 30 member organizations — including ISES and MPI — involved in meetings, conventions and exhibitions. CIC administers the Certified Meeting Professional program.

Here, APEX commissioner Brian Findley, CMP, food and beverage director at Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., explains why APEX is important and how the event industry can get involved.

SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: At Opryland, your job requires you to oversee 1,300 full-time foodservice employees, 23 F&B departments, 15 restaurant outlets and banquets that top as many as 30,000 covers a day. Why did you add the volunteer job as an APEX commissioner?

BRIAN FINDLEY: I have always been a believer that you give back to the industry in a commitment of time, resources, energy and a general sense of mentorship. So when [APEX Commission chair Mickey Schaefer] called, there was only one answer — yes.

Q: The first APEX project — a standardized glossary of industry terms — was approved by CIC members in October. Why is standard terminology important?

A: Just two months ago, my staff and I spent a number of hours and dollars resolving a problem that arose because we weren't speaking the same language as our client. The client had asked for a podium with a microphone in the front of the room and the room set theater-style. But what the client really wanted was a standing lectern with a lectern mike and the room set schoolroom-style. In the pre-con meeting we caught all of this, but we had already set up all the rooms in advance. Now we have a readily accessible source to help our clients clarify their requirements, saving time, money and frustration.

Q: Is the glossary meant for an American audience? For example, the British term for tent — marquee — is not yet included.

A: Since the glossary started in North America, you'll find that it is mostly North American-focused. However, as the use of the glossary spreads and as the glossary itself evolves, I think you'll find that it will become more and more comprehensive for worldwide English-speaking use.

Q: The second phase of the APEX initiative — the Post-Event Report, which documents specifics of a meeting or event — has also been approved. Why is this piece important?

A: This is something I've wished for for years! The Post-Event Report is such a help in space and time management. It provides for an effective use of resources. For example, a report from a hotel may tell me that the event last year used 30,000 square feet for its general session. But it may be that they put the event in a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, but used only 10,000 square feet of space — the rest of the ballroom was actually empty. If I know the actual net square feet of what they used, I'm not spinning my wheels looking for a space larger than they really need.

Q: How can individual event professionals get involved with drafting the standards for APEX? Should they let their professional associations do it for them?

A: Event pros should be directly involved in what APEX is doing. At a minimum, they should make sure to follow the initiative's progress and provide feedback on recommended accepted practices. APEX will be an enhancement to their creativity, and will be tool to enhance the competitive edge for everybody, because a better understanding is a better competitive edge.

Q: The next pieces of APEX will be the component of resumes and work orders, followed by housing and registration, RFPs, meeting and site profiles, and, finally, contracts. Do you have specific comments on any of these?

A: All of it will be exciting. This really is a metamorphosis of our industry. It's coming out of its cocoon, and turning into a beautiful butterfly. But the event industry has to get on board now, because the train is leaving the station.

To access both the APEX Industry Glossary and the APEX Post-Event Report template, visit To subscribe to the APEX e-mail newsletter, send an e-mail including your name, title and employer with “ADD” in the subject line to [email protected]. To reach CIC, call 800/725-8982 or 703/610-9030 or visit

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