A BUSINESS CONSULTANT sometime somewhere once told me that it's not much good to hand out your own business card — you have no guarantee that the people you give it to will ever call you. It's far more valuable to collect the cards of people whom you think are important. And have I ever. The desk drawers in my office are filled with tottering little towers of business cards, invaluable contacts of which I don't get full value because I can't ever find the one I want.

There's a technological innovation that I wish somebody would invent for me: a wonderful little machine that would instantly take all the information from the business cards that I glom onto at conferences, cocktail parties, long lines at the airport and just about everywhere else I go, and neatly enter it into my Rolodex and computer contact files, completely indexed with all imaginable editorial feature possibilities that person offers.

Maybe my business-card breakthrough doesn't yet exist, but there are plenty of exciting innovations out there for special event professionals. In this issue, we take a look at special event “breakthroughs” — the innovations in technology and services that are helping event professionals navigate these tough times.

The impetus for this article came from a presentation that Special Events Magazine publisher Lisa Perrin and I gave at the ISES Conference for Professional Development in Minneapolis in August. The positive reaction to our presentation was gratifying but not surprising, because in today's demanding climate, event pros need every edge they can get.

For our “breakthroughs” article, turn to page 43. And for details on one of the strongest ISES CPDs ever, turn to the ISES Eventworld insert on page 10a.

But while applauding the next technology advance is great, event pros must continue executing events flawlessly, and that means getting the basics right. I was reminded of this while working on our second annual hotel event marketplace study. When we asked respondents for their secrets of success, there were no secrets; superb food and superb service remain the keys to superb events.

The good news is that after two dismal years, the hotel industry appears to be on the rebound. The Special Events survey shows that fully 57 percent of respondents predict that they will stage more special events next year. (See the results on page 22.)

With hotels still the No. 1 venue for special events, the brightening picture for this segment of our business means brighter days ahead for all of us.