Worktopia

Trends

However, if you've suddenly got to put together a day meeting off the reservation, so to speak, it might sound more to your ears like Salvation. That's because you can go to Worktopia.com 24/7, pop in your meeting stats and turn it loose. The system will then search, check availability, get instant live quotes, compare proposals and make a meeting booking decision, sometimes in just under three minutes…you did read that right.

Minimal though your effort may be, it won't be haphazard. No indeedy. The system pairs up your requirements from a pool of 5,000 meeting rooms in 1,000 hotels and conference and business centers in more than 150 cities in the U.S., Canada and the UK.

OOOH, and did we mention it's free? It's the properties that pay; they subscribe annually. Plus, there are real, living, breathing people at Worktopia's call center in South Carolina (as opposed to South India, but God bless those nice folks, too) who provide support all the way to fulfillment.

The company was launched six months ago and is growing like mad. For the moment, though, the sweet spot of Worktopia, according to founder and CEO John Arenas, is a meeting of 15 to 50 people, with a lead-time of about six weeks. It helps, too, if the meeting needs to take place in one of the top 10 to 15 major markets. Any request on your part that doesn't pull up a response automatically will be directed to the helpful call center (which we tested out) to determine your flexibility on dates, room configuration, etc.

You can order everything from the seating arrangement and snacking mints to a banquet; choose a pointer or the full A/V system (complete with a friendly techie to operate it). Meanwhile, we're sitting here in Sausalito, trying to decide if we actually should go ahead and have that meeting we've test-scheduled in New York on August 16 at 9 a.m. for 25 of our closest friends; or, instead, choose the fly-in meeting at the Crowne Plaza Chicago O'Hare for 135. Wouldn't that be fun?