Tall Ships and CTAMers Head to Boston

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With the tall ships scheduled to reach the port of Boston this week, last-minute registrants for the CTAM Summit may find it tougher than usual to get hotel rooms.

But the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing-which is hosting its annual conference Sunday through Wednesday (July 16 through 19)-still had rooms available through a number of hotel directories listed on the ctam.com Web site last week, according to senior vice president of marketing Seth Morrison.

Pre-registration for the CTAM Summit closes today (July 10), with on-site registration available at the Hynes Convention Center beginning Sunday. Although CTAM won't release registration figures until next week, Morrison noted that preregistration is tracking ahead of last year on a week-to-week basis.

"Boston is one of our most popular cities" for Summit attendance, CTAM president Char Beales said, noting that about two-thirds of CTAM members live east of the Mississippi River.

Attendance is open only to CTAM members. Beales said that while overall membership in the association has grown gradually over the past few years, membership among executives at cable operators has basically remained flat, and its percentage among total membership is dropping. She credited the lack of growth to consolidation at the MSO level.

CTAM has also seen a decline in membership from cable's competitors, from a high of roughly 5 percent to about 3 percent now, Beales said. "We call that the RBOC [regional Bell operating company] effect," she added, pointing to the number of telephone companies that had planned comprehensive video strategies but have since decided to leave the market.

After aggressively courting new-media and technology companies, CTAM has seen growth in what Beales called the "broadband group's" membership-including hardware, software and middleware companies-to about 5 percent of total membership.

Technology will take center stage during the Summit's "New Product Road Show." Its three sessions Monday and Tuesday afternoon feature presentations from experts in electronic commerce, in-home networking, video-on-demand, subscriber management, one-to-one advertising, digital-video recording and other new technologies.

Separate registration is required only for the various "Master Courses," which start Sunday. According to Morrison, the course-titled "Measuring the Success of Marketing Campaigns"-has already sold out, and he expects additional courses to fill up this week.

No separate registration is required for track sessions or general sessions, nor for the 15 chat sessions that allow marketers to meet peer-to-peer in a roundtable format. The subjects for the chat sessions were chosen based on member input, and they include digital, VOD, high-speed Internet, emerging technologies and ethnic marketing.

Topics for track sessions include bandwidth management, relationship marketing and telephony.

Beales said more than 400 CTAM Summit attendees would be new members. The association plans special welcome activities Sunday, including an orientation session and a new-member reception.

General attendees will be treated to first-rate festivities, including a World Championship Wrestling party Sunday night, a Donna Summer concert sponsored by Romance Classics Monday night and the infamous "Boston Bash" Tuesday night, when nine different venues on Boylston Street will open their doors to the CTAM crowds.

"We have great parties," Beales said. "We're marketers. We work hard, but we like to have a lot of fun."

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