Opening Reception Slow, but High Hopes Reign for Show

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ORLANDO, FL -- Attendees at yesterday's grand opening of the Direct Marketing Association's annual conference expressed confidence regarding the event as well as the state of the industry and their businesses.

"Traffic here should be strong," said Craig L. Blake, account director of sales at W.A. Wilde Co., Holliston, MA, a direct mail and fulfillment service provider. "Since July and August, people have seen some light at the end of the tunnel. They're not mailing millions upon millions of direct mail pieces as they were five years ago. They're putting out higher-end pieces that are more targeted, and they are spending more money on pieces."

Kirstie Lingel, marketing and promotions director at TMA List Brokerage and Management, Reston, VA, said the DMA limited three-day hall passes for exhibitors' clients, "which impacted some of our customers" regarding their decision to come to Orlando.

This year, passes were issued for Monday only for the clients of exhibitors. And while Lingel observed that floor traffic was light yesterday, she added that today "you'll see a 100 percent difference."

Despite the turmoil in the telemarketing sector, Tom Caprio, president of Meyer Teleservices, St. Cloud, MN, said he is looking forward to a 15 percent to 20 percent increase this year in terms of prospects and attendees at the conference. Caprio doesn't expect much from the legislation that will affect his sector because less than 10 percent of his business is consumer marketing.

"The biggest headache is the confusion and inconsistencies with all the legislation between the FTC and FCC," he said. "The harder thing is the difference between the states since each state is different. There are companies I know of that are chopping 50 percent of their seats."

Herb Feldman, however, was unhappy with the show's logistics so far. Feldman, vice president of sales at King TeleServices, New York, was at his booth with no name tag around his neck for most of the opening reception.

"It was a fiasco just to get an exhibitor badge," said Feldman, who usually arrives at the show a day early. This year, he arrived Sunday afternoon. "This is the worst I can remember in terms of the line. They must have 18 kiosks and four for the exhibitors to get their badges. It should be 12 for the [exhibitors]."

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