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Catalog Show, DM Days Go Head to Head in ’03

CHICAGO — Though exhibitors have been pleased with attendance at the Catalog Conference here this week, next year could be a different story. The catalog show will be June 1-3 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, while DM Days New York will be June 2-4 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York.

“I would say at this show, approximately 20 percent to 30 percent of it is list businesses,” Diana Arroyo, vice president of operations and finance at Carney Direct Marketing, Irvine, CA, said at yesterday's Catalog Conference. “With the scheduling conflict in 2003, my prediction is it will eliminate a lot of exhibitors from the catalog conference. Most list companies would go to DM Days.”

An analysis of this year’s exhibitor lists shows that 50 companies are exhibiting at both shows.

A similar scheduling conflict happened in 1998, when the catalog show was June 1-4 in Boston and DM Days New York was June 1-3. At the time, organizers of the two events promised to talk to one another so this wouldn’t happen again.

Organizers admitted that the situation is less than ideal.

“It’s certainly going to hurt both shows,” said Amy Blankenship, director of the DMA’s Shop-At-Home Information Center. “There will likely be some people who will have to choose between the shows. However, the catalog show is the show for catalogers. We still expect a good turnout.”

Blankenship said the DMA had booked its San Francisco dates four years ago.

“We did not consider looking at changing the show location,” she said. “We like the rotation between the cities we have for catalog: San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. We booked the dates long before they did, and we did talk to them about it.”

Meanwhile, DM Days has become a junior player because of its decision to move to Javits and has limited dates to choose from.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but they came to it — and that’s what they have now,” said Connie LaMotta, president of LaMotta Strategic Communications Inc., which handles DM Days’ account.

LaMotta said DM Days officials had hoped to get another date at Javits, but when that fell through earlier this year they were left with the same June dates as the catalog show. DM Days also didn’t want to get away from its spring schedule, she said.

“The Javits Center is a tremendously booked convention center,” she said. “We had two dates to choose from: June or September. We chose June because no meeting rooms were available in September.”

LaMotta also said it will be less of a problem this year because DM Days has been changing its focus.

“DM Days is going after the wireless crowd,” she said. “The next frontier is wireless, and it’s where their focus is now. We also picked June because catalog is a niche show.”

Arroyo said the catalog conference is shrinking.

“The floor is all of 14 [rows of exhibitors] and it's only three-quarters the length of the floor,” she said. “We were wondering if the catalog show would be a necessity next year, given the foot traffic issues. I doubt we would split up and do both. Our choice would be DM Days. If there were a lot of catalogers walking this floor … it might be a different story.”

Paul Ercolino, director of sales at U.S. Monitor, New City, NY, was surprised by the news.

“It's going to be a difficult decision next year,” he said. “I'm upset that two organizations in the same industry can't get together on this.”

Ercolino recalled that when this conflict arose four years ago one person from his company attended the Catalog Conference in Boston while another went to New York for DM Days.

“You don't have a major show for months, then there are two shows in the same week,” he said. “It's frustrating.”

Ercolino said no decision has been made by his company regarding next year, but he expects business to be hurt as a result of the scheduling conflict.

Nancy Wiggins, marketing communications manager at Banta Corp., Menasha, WI, said her company would be represented at both events next year.

“No one who works the New York show works the Catalog show,” she said. “It's not the most efficient thing for us. It creates problems with booths and what you're going to use where, but I guess that's our problem. It only makes sense that there would be some communication. I can't imagine there is any advantage to this, especially since they will be on opposite coasts.”

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