Decision Still Out on Fall Show Returning to Orlando

The Direct Marketing Association said yesterday that it is still evaluating Orlando, FL, as a candidate for a return visit by its annual fall show in 2007, but coverage of last month's show by a local newspaper could affect that decision. A decision is expected by the end of the month.

The story printed by the Orlando Sentinel during the conference referred to attendees as “spammers” in a headline, lumped them with “the folks at SnoreFix and The Money Maker Plan” and referred to one exhibitor as “Hypnosis 360” when its real name was Hyphos360. It also said there were discussions at the show about how to evade e-mail blocking software.

The Sentinel printed an item in its business section yesterday reporting that the DMA had slated Orlando for its 2007, 2011 and 2015 shows but could drop the city because of complaints from members about the story.

Orlando is not yet part of the DMA's annual fall show rotation, which includes Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco, DMA spokeswoman Christina Duffney said. The DMA said it outgrew Toronto, which used to be in the rotation.

The DMA will decide whether to return to Orlando by the end of November, evaluating factors including on-site attendance, hotel use and attendee and exhibitor performance. The Sentinel story will be one factor, she said.

“It takes several years for a location to land in our rotation,” Duffney said. “It's common for us to go back at least once or twice before we add it to the rotation.”

One advantage to Orlando was the layout of the Orange County Convention Center, where the show was held, Duffney said. The general session and session rooms were located conveniently near the exhibit hall.

Duffney said she talked with Orlando Sentinel public editor Manning Pynn, who told her the newspaper doesn't normally cover conferences but decided to write about the DMA show because of recent controversy stemming from the national no-call list. Pynn said he might dedicate one of his weekly columns to the newspaper's coverage of the DMA show in an upcoming edition, Duffney said.

The Sentinel ran a correction of its incorrect reference to Hyphos360, a Clearwater, FL, database firm, eight days after the story appeared. However, Hyphos360, which in the past has counted Sentinel Direct, the newspaper's direct marketing subsidiary, as a client, wasn't satisfied with the correction, said Lisa Taylor, sales and marketing consultant at Hyphos.

Taylor wrote a letter to the editor of the Sentinel, which had not been printed as of yesterday, and had a conversation with Pynn. She is working on a second letter but has not received assurances that either letter will be printed. The first letter was printed in DM News yesterday.

“The gentleman who wrote the article, Rich McKay, was trying to create an effect and negatively portray direct marketers,” Taylor said. “He lumped all of us into the spammers' bucket.”

Pynn did not return a call to his office yesterday. Representatives of the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which operates the convention center, also did not return a call.

Next year's fall show will be in New Orleans, followed by Atlanta in 2005 and San Francisco in 2006. Chicago is being skipped in 2005 because of construction work on the city's convention center, Duffney said.

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