Chicago Catalog Show Steams Ahead After Stormy Weather Disrupts Travel Schedules

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Chicago -- 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

McCormick Place.

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