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COMPUTER GAME TEACHES YOU THE INS AND OUTS OF EXPORTING

SHARE COMPUTER GAME TEACHES YOU THE INS AND OUTS OF EXPORTING

Want to do your part to counter the high trade deficit and make money, too? Consider exporting your products or services.

To cajole you into entering the world market, the New York/New Jersey Port Authority's World Trade and Economic Development Department helped develop an export business simulation game. Export to Win! is actually a complete enjoyable course in exporting.It teaches by putting you in the driver's seat of a mythical company that's venturing into exports. Over the course of several game "years," you're coached as you go to international trade shows, develop a market plan, decide on product, explore financing and analyze options for distribution.

When it comes time for market research, you're helped to track global business trends. You learn what resources can help you understand the international marketplace. You develop pricing strategies and deal with licensing, shipping and insurance problems.

You learn how export management firms can help you.

The program suggests cultural barriers that need to be hurdled. It coaches as you handle currency exchange with built-in conversion tables. It suggests strategies and relays information to help your make-believe firm locate and select markets. It shows how the right mix of promotion, pricing and product adaptation leads to successful global marketing.

You can play the game yourself, or use it to train employees.

Strategic Management Group (800-445-7089) sells Export to Win! for $100 and offers a thoughtful 30-day money-back guarantee. To play, you need an IBM compatible with 640K RAM.

Strategic Management Group's main business is training managers in banking and financial services. For the Foreign Exchange module of their Treasury Risk Management seminars, they use a program developed by Chisholm Roth & Co. Ltd. of England.

Called FX Plus Professional, this simulation program actually plays like a trading desk. It has changing news items, prices in seven currencies, international trading zones and a phone system that telephones the user for prices. To us old-timers, it sounds like an international version of Blue Chip Software's exciting games Millionaire and American Investor. (To learn more about the computerized Foreign Exchange Seminars, phone (215-387-4000).

Opening an overseas office? Open Systems is one of the first U.S. accounting software makers to offer versions in Spanish, French, German and the queen's English. Called Open Systems Accounting Software 3.2 ML (for Multi-Lingual), they were redesigned by Accumat Data (201-285-9195) to accommodate the accounting and bookkeeping requirements of particular countries.

Accumat sells each module (general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts payable, etc.) for $200 over the cost of Open Systems' tariff. They also make a multicurrency module for firms that do business in more than one foreign country.

To store all your overseas travel and entertainment expenses and retrieve them in IRS-approved reports, get Expense It! Its database records your tabs in any order or no order at all. Then it sorts and organizes them for quick retrieval on your company's traditional forms. A built-in calculator converts foreign currency into U.S. dollars.

The $130 program comes set up with the eight required IRS expense categories. You can key expenses that are to be billed to a client, plus cash advances and reimbursements. You can even use the program to reconcile credit card purchases. It keeps IRS-required auto expense records for up to 23 autos.

It's made for IBM compatible computers. Windows and pop-ups make it easy to use. There are short-cuts for recurring daily, weekly and monthly expenses. There's space for form of payment, purpose and other comments.

Do you take a laptop on trips? Load in this program. A subtotaler tallies daily phone charges and adds room taxes to hotel bills. It figures daily cost of rental cars. It exports ASCII files to spreadsheet or accounting software. Maker On the Go Software is at 213-578-9595.

Do you own a small hotel chain? Now that SCO UNIX works easily and well on the faster IBM compatibles, think about converting your MS-DOS computer to run it. Then you can go international with J&E Central Reservations System. Its automated currency conversion makes it easy to handle Canadian and overseas reservations.

The program gives a clerk at any one hotel access to the reservation books at all your sites. You can install just one 800 number for all your properties. To prospective guests, your reservation system will sound just like Ramada Inn's!

Central Reservations can look up any data that are in Hotel System, such as room type, rate code, guarantee methods and site-by-site reservation rules. A Prompt Book can bring up onscreen any promotional rates that are running at the time as well as other special messages that you want employees to keep in mind for each hotel. You can write out questions and responses in a Scripting File. Then, even an untrained agent can make accurate bookings by reading the computer screen.

For the package to work, you also need to own Jonas & Erickson's J&E Hotel System. It's a UNIX-based front-office management package. It does all guest billing, cashiering, and tracking of advance and walk-in room reservations. It also stores guest histories such as smoking-no smoking preference.

Like most programs written for UNIX, these are high-priced, $4,000 and up for Hotel System and $9,000 plus for Central Reservation. (For information, phone Jonas & Erickson, 214-490-3482.)

You can read back issues of this column at the electronic library, NewsNet, reachable via computer plus modem over phone lines. For NewsNet information, 800-345-1301. Copyright 1990 P/K Associates Inc., 3006 Gregory Street, Madison, WI 53711.