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Transition Year for New DMD Conference

It's a transition year for this year's DMD Marketing Conferences New York. As a result of the dot-com collapse, the show will take on more of an old-school flavor than in recent years. It also is the first show since its organizers changed the name and formed a nonprofit branch. And it's the last year the conference will be in its present location before moving to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in 2002.

“We have a mix [of exhibitors] that we would have had five years ago,” said Chuck Cavanagh, president/CEO of DMD Marketing Conferences New York. “The dot-com companies have obviously taken a big hit, and they are doing away with us and themselves. The majority of exhibitors this year are the more traditional direct marketers, such as printing and production companies, list brokers and mailers.”

There have been several cancellations, Cavanagh said, but the conference is still fully booked with around 300 exhibitors. The show starts Monday and runs through Thursday, May 24 at the Hilton New York and Towers. He said the conference might manage to squeeze in more exhibitors because several have rented smaller booth spaces.

“You have a lot of these companies that merged, so there is just a fewer number of them,” he said. “The companies that are still around are obviously looking to cut expenses, and New York is not a cheap place to visit and send people to for a conference.”

Attendance is expected to be down as well.

“With the organizational change we went through this year and the transitions we experienced, we definitely got behind,” Cavanagh said. “Plus, we were waiting to get confirmation on our major speakers. We didn't make any mention of who our speakers would be until our third mailing was delivered.”

This spring, Direct Marketing Days New York changed its name and formed a nonprofit branch, DMD New York Educational Foundation Inc. The foundation will focus on the nonprofit educational aspects of DMDNY's mission. It is working on plans to develop a sponsorship program; internships; a database of industry guest lecturers; campus visits; career days; and an outreach connection of resources in the direct and interactive marketing industry for students, educators and educational institutions.

As a result of this month's decision by the U.S. Postal Service's Board of Governors to raise postal rates, one of the best-attended speeches should be that of John Nolan, deputy postmaster general and chief marketing officer at the USPS, who will speak at a luncheon Wednesday.

Other speakers include John Samuel, vice president of e-business at American Airlines, who will give Tuesday's keynote address; Roger Blackwell, professor of marketing at Ohio State University, also on Tuesday; and Mark Victor Hansen, co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, on Wednesday.

Thomas O. Ryder, chairman/CEO of The Reader's Digest Association, will receive the Direct Marketer of the Year award. The conference also will present a lifetime achievement award to outgoing postmaster general William J. Henderson.

In preparation for the conference's move to the Javits Center next year, DMD will offer exhibit-only passes for the first time.

“At the Javits Center, you have more of an exhibit setup,” he said, “and we want to see how many people will be willing to attend the conference only for the exhibit floor.”

With more space available next year, Cavanagh said he expects to increase the number of exhibitors by 25 percent.

“That is the minimum percentage that we are looking to increase,” he said.

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