It's that time of year again. Time for the fifth annual 1999 Lodging Conference and Deal Corral. This year's conference - to be held at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2 - promises some new additions with the familiar, casual style of previous years.

The conference is designed to provide attendees with network opportunities, as well as a chance to learn more about the lodging industry through "think tanks." Morris E. Lasky, conference chair, says this year's think tanks will answer the question on most hotelier's minds: What's going to happen over the next 18 months?

"People are trying to second guess what's going to happen over the next 18 months," he says. "We're concerned about a dip in the business because of overbuilding. Many of the think tanks are going to address what happens when area occupancies begin to drop and what the impact is. Other topics include: Is there going to be construction financing - if so, how? Will Wall Street jump back into the industry again? What chains are going to emerge on top, and which ones are going to slip?

"We plan each session based on what we think is going to happen," Lasky says, adding that each 90-minute session reflects what is happening in the industry at the time instead of months prior.

The agenda for this year's conference did not develop overnight. Instead, Lasky says, it was a result of last year's conference. "At the end of every conference - in order to see what people thought - I actually call every person who attended," Lasky says. "It takes me two months to do it. As a result of that follow-up work, I set the agenda for the next year and select the speakers that I think are most appropriate."

In addition to providing attendees with up-to-date information during the think tanks, this year's conference is also longer. Lasky said the extra day was added in order to accommodate the Deal Corral - an opportunity to learn about factors affecting the industry and a unique chance to network.

"The morning of the Deal Corral will focus on dealmaking and then we will offer seven concurrent sessions that deal with mezzanine financing, equity, brokerage and banking," Lasky says. "The interesting thing is that we will have a 'trading post' in the afternoon. We'll have 25 desks set up with representatives from a variety of companies involved with dealmaking. We're inviting attendees to make appointments - 25 minutes each - with these people to discuss their deals."

Because the conference is limited in size, attendees should not have a problem meeting with their company of choice during the trading post. However, Lasky suggests making an appointment prior to the conference.

"The conference is limited in size to 450 attendees which means it never gets so huge that people don't have the time to network," Lasky says. "People have time to meet CFOs, CEOs and people they would love to see."

More information can be found on the conference Website at http://www.lodginglink.com or by calling (800) 252-3540.