How the APEX Initiative Changed Corporate Event Planning

The Original Push to Standardize Communication in the Event Industry

Meeting with an event planner.
Meeting with an event planner. Zero Creatives/Getty Images

One of the most common requests among corporate event and meeting planners is for standardized event planning software to aid in the communication between industry professionals and overall efficiency. While one totally standardized and prescribed system or software has not yet been adopted throughout the industry, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) launched an initiative that provided some unprecedented direction for event planners, industry professionals, and ultimately event planning software developers across the nation with what is known as APEX.

The CIC's Accepted Practices Exchange

APEX stands for "Accepted Practices Exchange," an initiative of the Convention Industry Council (CIC) launched to unite the entire meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry to develop and implement voluntary standards for event planning software and other tools. Despite its voluntary nature, it was a game-changer in the industry.

More than 2,500 industry members in 60 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada participated in hands-on discussions, and more than 350 industry professionals were involved as hands-on volunteers since 2001. Through collaboration, those involved in APEX hoped to define industry-wide accepted practices, which would define standards for event planning software and other tools. This initiative eventually evolved into the creation of the APEX event planning tools, which include a series of resources for event planners and the continued development of new event planning software.

APEX Tools and Resources

Back in 2001, the APEX initiative was the only industry-wide and cohesive push to develop standards for event planning tool. Eventually, it led to the development of tools, templates, and best practices guidelines that many event planners still use in some form today. All of the resources are still available for online use or available for download in Microsoft Word of PDF formats.

The tools are all available free of charge.

  1. The Online APEX Industry Glossary
    This interactive, online tool is the comprehensive reference for the terminology, jargon, and acronyms used throughout the meeting and events industry. It makes for a great resource to ensure consistency of terms and still proves to be a useful training tool for new employees.
  2. The ESG (Event Specifications Guide) Template
    Event planners used to use the term "resume" to reference meeting specifications. The acronym ESG (which stands for event specifications guide) replaced this term after the launch of APEX with a standardized tool to use in preparing and sharing complete instructions and details for events of all sizes.
  3. APEX Housing & Registration
    These accepted practices were developed for the collecting, reporting, and retrieving complete housing and registration data for meetings, conventions, and other events. It also proved to be a resource for dealing with housing issues such as housing providers, internet issues, international housing, and disclosure.
  4. The PER (Post-Event Report) Template
    Replacing the old "history" reports, the Post-Event Report or PER is still the event and meetings industry's accepted format for collecting, storing, and sharing accurate and thorough post-event report data on events of all types (though new versions exist in various programs).
  1. Request for Proposal (RFP) Templates
    Along with a whitepaper published by the CIC in conjunction with APEX delegates and The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), the CIC still provides standard RFP formats that address the core information and unique needs for a variety of different RFP needs including: audiovisual, destination management company, service contractor, single facility, transportation, function schedule, and function set-up. These templates make it easier to solicit the right information, compare responses, and make informed decisions.

Event Planning Resources and Software

The aim of the Convention Industry Council's APEX initiative was to fundamentally change the way professionals communicated across the meetings and events industry from event planners to vendors, suppliers, contractors, and other event services professionals.

Prior to APEX, its standardized guidelines, best practices, and ultimately its online tools and resources, communication was the primary challenge for professionals in the industry.

A lot has changed since the early 2000s. While the idea for APEX and these objectives began as early as 1997, and the CIC focused mainly on the conceptual stage from 2000-2004 waiting to launch until 2004 and 2005. Since the launch of the APEX standards and tools, many other resources and event planning software have been developed, but no authority has overruled the CIC in prescribing industry standards of practice.