DMA May Revive International Pavilion at Fall Show

The Direct Marketing Association may reinstate the International Pavilion at its fall show despite earlier statements that the pavilion was dead.

Charles Prescott, DMA vice president of international business development and government affairs, sent an e-mail yesterday to last year's 22 exhibitors asking whether the pavilion should be reinstated. DMA officials decided to discontinue the pavilion after surveying exhibitors at last year's show.

“No one wanted it,” he said. “Many said they didn't want to be in the pavilion in the first place. Others said they don't think of themselves as international, and instead as global.”

The number of exhibitors in the pavilion has declined over the past few years as many migrated to the main floor where they felt they received better exposure. In addition, Prescott said the pavilion is expensive.

“Space has to be reserved in a special fashion,” he said. “We have to hang banners from the ceilings, and we have to create the banners.”

However, the DMA decided to poll the international exhibitors again at the request of James Thornton, managing director of Mailing Lists (Asia) Ltd. and International Mailings Ltd.

In a letter to DM News, which was forwarded to the DMA, Thornton said eliminating the pavilion “sends out a very negative signal to the DM industry indicating the DMA is no longer interested in supporting and face-lifting international direct marketing activity.”

Thornton said his company was positioned just outside the pavilion last year and that he noticed the difference from previous years.

“Only visitors specifically seeking us out came to visit our stand,” he said. “There was none of the usual visitor traffic to be seen strolling along the aisle.”

Prescott's e-mail said the DMA is “willing to reinstate the International Pavilion if you express an interest in our doing so.” However, this would require companies to “reselect booth space in another area of the floor. Where that area would lie would depend on the number of exhibitors to participate in the pavilion.”

The e-mail asked recipients to send a message stating either that they are happy about the space on the floor they have selected or that they would be interested in being in a pavilion. The DMA asked recipients to reply by March 14. A decision will be announced shortly thereafter.

As of yesterday afternoon, the DMA had received six responses, and “five had said don't bother.” The other expressed some interest in having the pavilion reinstated, Prescott said.

“If we got eight or 10 responses that felt very strongly, then we will do our best,” he said.

The DMA's 86th Annual Conference & Exhibition will be Oct. 12-15 in Orlando, FL.

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