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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