Chicago Catalog Show Steams Ahead After Stormy Weather Disrupts Travel SchedulesChicago -- Direct marketing professionals from across the country missed
the Grand Opening Reception as well as Tuesday morning's opening general
session at the 16th Annual Catalog Conference after severe weather caused
the delay or cancellation of many flights into Chicago Monday evening.
For a short time, Chicago's O'hare International Airport was forced to shut
down after reports of tornados and wind gusts diverted air
traffic north over Toronto and as far south as North Carolina. Most Windy
City-bound travelers from the east coast didn't arrive into Chicago until
yesterday afternoon. Then there was a scramble to rearrange important
meetings before settling down to real business at McCormick Place.
However the fowl weather didn't appear to result in any noticeable
cancellations according to Amy Blankenship, spokesperson at the Direct
Marketing Association who said late Tuesday afternoon that the numbers were
not down. She said a spot check with the registration desk suggested
overall attendance was on par with last year -- about 6000 people.
Indeed, there were many in attendance who didn't seem to notice there
had been any weather problems at all yet wondered why so many of their
appointments ended up being no-shows.
Some representatives heading up catalog booths also expressed concern
in the early afternoon on Tuesday that foot traffic seemed too slow. But
many of those doubts appeared alleviated after activity increased later in
the day when word got out about all the delayed flights.
However some like Rod Murillo, President of Synertech and an IBM
corporate partner participating in the show said none of the travel
disruptions affected interest at their booth. "It was brisk for us all day
long" he said. "Really good."
Sure enough, by Tuesday's evening reception and during general
sessions Wednesday morning, numerous attendees were frantically exchanging
business cards and shaking hands in between sessions, coffee runs and smoke
breaks. A number of people told DM News reporters they were pleased with the
high number of quality leads and contacts they were making despite the late
start for many resulting from the weather.
The 16th Annual Catalog Conference continues through Thursday. Over
90 sessions are being conducted with some 600 exclusive catalog-oriented
companies participating or conducting presentations in show's exhibit hall at