Scorching Las Vegas Slows Floor Traffic at NCDM

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LAS VEGAS - Many attendees at the 25th National Center for Database Marketing Conference & Exhibition here last week were somewhere other than the hotel or exhibit floor, exhibitors said, though the traffic resulted in a number of quality leads.


"There seems to be [fewer] attendees than there were in Chicago [last summer]," said Ted Uczen, chief customer officer at NuEdge Systems, Englewood, CO.


This was the first NCDM show for Osvaldo Santiago, director of the design council at Pridco, San Juan, who had only one complaint.


"I think all of the speakers should provide us with more handouts with information and outlines about their speeches when we enter," he said. "This way we can make specific notes on things and [easily] reference back to it."


Paul Ercolino, director of sales at U.S. Monitor, New City, NY, attributed the light traffic to the location.


"There are a lot of distractions out there," he said, referring to the spectacle of Las Vegas.


Several vendors complained that leads were of lower quality compared with past shows. For example, they said, systems analysts and programmers were roaming the floor instead of decision-makers such as vice presidents of marketing. NCDM advisory committee member Steve Horne, who is president of Analytici, New York, the interactive customer relationship management division of FCB Worldwide, agreed, saying, "the show is becoming more about technology. It's losing some of its marketing focus."


Ed Berkowitz, director of sales at Intertec Exhibitors - the company that schedules and plans the NCDM shows - said there were 60 more booths this summer compared with last year. While final attendance figures were not available at press time, he said the number would be similar to last summer's total: 2,000.


"The reason people might believe there are [fewer] exhibitors at this show is because of the trend of people designing much bigger booths. The traffic is definitely here. People might be spending time in the casinos, but they are not there all day, and there is no reason to go outside with the temperature the way it is," Berkowitz said, referring to the 115-degree days.


Privacy concerns provided a recurring theme for many of the keynote speeches and sessions, including the distinction between allowing customers to offer information to a company so they can receive personalized marketing messages and a company selling that information to other companies for profit.


In his keynote address, H. Robert Wientzen, president/CEO of the Direct Marketing Association, said the database industry "is at the bull's-eye of a very heated public debate."


Peter Reid, vice president of NCR's Privacy Center for Expertise, said companies can gain a competitive advantage if they build trust with their customers. Marketers should recognize this advantage as opposed to leaving it until the last minute, when there will undoubtedly be legislation passed within the next year.
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