TORONTO — The DMA said this year’s attendance — 14,500 — was down from last year, when 15,600 attended in San Francisco. The show drew 2,000 international delegates, but 1,300 were from Canada. Last year, 1,500 attended in San Francisco. Brazil sent the largest foreign delegation, but the DMA offered a special pricing arrangement to make up for the drastic fall of the Real earlier this year.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that attendance at the weekend’s global events was sparse. One roundtable drew four people, and several presenters complained that they had come halfway around the world to address as few as a dozen people.
Even with 110,000 square feet of space available for vendors, the DMA was unable to provide all of those looking to participate with space for a booth, including many Internet marketers. The exhibit floor was maxed out, said DMA spokesman Chet Dalzell, and 25 or more companies didn’t get to exhibit.
Availability of housing in Toronto was a problem only for those who were late in registering. After running out of space, the DMA put attendees in hotels near the airport, which meant a 20-minute cab ride to the convention center each day, but the DMA was able to move a large number of people closer as rooms opened up and some people left early.
The DMA reserved the Metro Toronto Convention Centre the last time the conference was here — in 1993 — but there were 3,500 more attendees this year.
“It’s necessary to reserve that far in advance, otherwise you won’t have a chance at getting in,” Dalzell said. “The growth the industry is experiencing is creating a situation where only a few cities are going to be able to accommodate the conference. It has to provide sufficient exhibit space, corporate meeting space and housing.”
There has never been a set loop of cities the conference goes to, he said, but until the DMA can find a fourth city with large enough facilities, it will be in New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco over the next few years. Other cities “on the radar” include Atlanta, Las Vegas and Orlando. Next year’s conference will be in New Orleans from Oct. 15 to 18, and more than 90 percent of the available floor space has already been reserved.