NEMOA Cancels Conference; DMers Jittery About Travel

Industry conferences and classes have been cancelled following last week’s terrorist attacks on the U.S. and nerves are frayed as direct marketers make travel plans for the Direct Marketing Association‘s annual conference next month.

The New England Mail Order Association (NEMOA) has cancelled its fall conference scheduled for Sept. 19 through 21 in Springfield, MA.

Joan McLaughlin, administrator of NEMOA, cited the “recent tragedy” as the reason for the cancellation.

About 350 to 400 catalogers and members were to gather at the conference to share information and network. Attendees that had paid a registration fee were reimbursed in full, McLaughlin said.

“The board has decided not to reschedule this conference,” she said. “The catalogers are hitting the busy season and we don’t want to push it out any further.”

NEMOA, an organization dedicated to the catalog industry, has 250 members. The group’s spring conference is to be held March 20 through 22 in Cambridge, MA.

The Direct Marketing Association of Washington in Washington, DC, cancelled a basic course in direct marketing last Friday, “out of respect,” Kris MacKenzie, the association’s marketing director said.

Its List Day event, scheduled for Oct. 2, is expected to go forward and is being held at the Arlington Hilton. The organization has 1,600 members with chapters in Baltimore, MD and central Virginia.

And while the Direct Marketing Association moves forward full swing with plans for its fall conference to be held Oct. 27 through 31 in Chicago, the hijacking of U.S. passenger aircraft has left some DMers wary of traveling.

A list manager from a large publishing company who has worked the exhibit booth and crafted an untold number of deals at the conference for the last eight years will attend only if she can drive from New York to Chicago.

“I’ll go if I can drive,” she said. “I don’t want a train, a bus or a plane. I’m afraid. I have no confidence in the security as it exists right now with any of the airlines and I don’t feel a train is any more secure than any other mass transit.”

MacKenzie, from the Direct Marketing Association of Washington, who had planned to attend the conference has decided not to go. “I’m not personally comfortable with it,” she said of air travel. Two representatives from the organization are speaking at the conference, MacKenzie added.

Geoff Batrouney, executive vice president of Estee Marketing Group Inc. in New Rochelle, NY, said that air travel would be much more difficult, yet safer.

“Am I happy about traveling?” he asked. “No not at all. A day trip now is going to be much more difficult, you won’t be able to just walk on to the shuttle, you won’t be able to come an hour before wheels up and get away with it. And that pleases me but it also means that it adds time to everybody’s schedule.”

H. Robert Weintzen, president of the DMA, said plans for the fall conference are “on track.” The DMA, yesterday, reconfirmed former President George Bush as the opening keynote speaker on Oct. 29.

Weintzen said several attendees have cancelled and that he is unaware of any exhibitors that have cancelled. “Obviously we’re monitoring the situation carefully, but so far I’m rather pleasantly surprised by the lack of any negative reaction at this point,” he said.

The DMA is looking into a number of opportunities to offset any potential loss in attendance. The airlines are being contacted to determine if special scheduling or pricing may be made available to members and bus transportation may be offered to those within a reasonable distance from Chicago, Weintzen said.

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