“Our show was really struggling — it was a dying show,” says David Martin, vice president, marketing, at the Electronic Retailing Association in Arlington, Va. When Martin joined ERA in February 2009, the association's annual conference was bleeding attendees and revenues — both down about 11 percent in 2008. The show floor was dead and, to make matters worse, the event was infested with “barnacles,” Martin says, people who would attend without registering and hold meetings for free in the ...

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