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*Big Parties in the Big Easy

Marketers attending next week's fall DMA conference in New Orleans will find Monday to be a busy day — and night.

In fact, people may have an easier time getting from meeting to meeting and attending sessions during the day than they will figuring out which of the 16 parties — at last count — to attend that have been scheduled for that night. Add to that another dozen or so parties taking place Oct. 14, 15 and 17, and you have the makings of a major hangover.

Though the majority of these parties are sponsored by companies for their clients and are by invitation only, requiring an R.S.V.P., some don't always hold to that rule.

In only its second year in attendance at the conference, Shop2u.com, Fairfax, VA, is jumping into the fray with a party Saturday. Officials chose that night because of the catalog sessions scheduled for the weekend.

“We want this to be the first networking event of the conference,” said Ellen Buermeyer, director of product marketing at Shop2u. “It will give our broker partners and our catalog clients a chance to conduct business before the craziness of the conference begins on Monday.”

Shop2u, which is throwing the party with 14 of its broker partners, will judge the party's success based on the number of attendees as well as on who attends, Buermeyer said.

“This will also give us a chance to get to meet some prospective clients and introduce ourselves to them,” she said.

Knowledgebase, Houston, is sponsoring its third annual party on Sunday, calling it the Conference Kickoff Party.

“We have these parties to show our appreciation to our customers … and to meet prospects,” said Peggy Garner, director of marketing at Knowledgebase, who chose Sunday because the Direct Marketing Association changed the exhibit hall schedule, opening the floor all afternoon Sunday instead of Wednesday. “Most of the contact made with prospects is done at the booth. If most of those people come to the party that night to meet with us again, then we look at the party as a success.”

Experian has made its mark on the party-throwing circuit in recent years, said Bob Stein, senior sales executive at Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ.

“They have great locations and huge crowds, so the networking is really good,” he said. “Sometimes the noise level can hinder networking, but you still want to stop in to at least be seen.”

Patrick Bernardi, director of marketing communications at Experian, Orange, CA, said no one will be turned away.

“It's an open door, and we invite everybody in the industry, including our competitors,” he said. “We are so well entrenched as having [our] party on Monday night that we are not going to worry about a low turnout.”

Bernardi agreed that the DMA's scheduling shift has resulted in an excessive number of parties scheduled for Monday night.

“Everyone wants to get their party in,” he said, “and with most of the people traveling out on Tuesday or Wednesday, they had to do it on Monday.”

Monday is always the busiest day of the conference, said Phyllis Freedman, senior vice president and managing director of the fundraising and member services at Epsilon.

“That is why we chose to have a cocktail reception instead of a dinner,” she said. “We know people are going to be bouncing in and out and will not be staying in any one place for that long.”

Party Route

• 1 5-7 p.m.: Novus Marketing, Arnaud’s Restaurant, 813 Rue Bienville.

• 2 5-8 p.m.: Marketing Communication Systems, Fairmont Hotel, 123 Baronne St.

• 3 5:30-8:30 p.m.: American Name Services, Ritz-Carlton, 921 Canal St.

• 4 6-9 p.m.: Direct Media Inc., Jackson Brewery Millhouse, 600 Decatur St.

• 5 6:30-9:30 p.m.: ClientLogic, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, 1104 Decatur St.

• 6 6:30-9 p.m.: Millard Group Inc., Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St.

• 7 7-9 p.m.: EMS Strategic Marketing Solutions, Pete Fountain Jazz Club, Hilton Riverside Hotel, 2 Poydras St.

• 8 6:30-9:30 p.m.: ICOM, Contemporary Arts Centre, 900 Camp.

• 9 7-9 p.m.: Epsilon, Arnaud’s Restaurant, 813 Rue Bienville.

• 10 7:30-10:30 p.m.: Lavery Rowe Advertising Ltd., Royal Sonesta Hotel, 300 Bourbon St.

• 11 7:30-10:30 p.m.: Adrea Rubin Marketing, Bella Luna, 914 N. Peters.

• 12 7-11 p.m.: DoubleClick, House of Blues, 225 Decatur St.

• 13 8-11 p.m.: Association for Interactive Media, Tipitina’s, 233 N. Peters.

• 14 8:30-11:30 p.m.: MRM, W Hotel, 333 Poydras St.

• 15 8 p.m.-midnight: MeritDirect and WorldWide Media Group,

The Red Room, 2040 St. Charles Ave.

• 16 9 p.m.-1 a.m.: Experian, Saenger Performing Arts Center, 142 N.

Rampart St.

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