Random House has canceled its national sales conference planned for Florida in late November and will look to replicate the meeting through teleconferencing, online chats and regional in-person meetings. Company spokesperson Stuart Applebaum said the decision to cancel the Florida meeting was made by Don Weisberg, president of sales and operations, and David Naggar, director of the sales group, at the "near unanimous appeal" from both sales reps and publishing personnel who "felt skittish about air travel and being away from home for an extended period." Asked whether Random would save money by canceling the Florida meeting, Applebaum replied that the "biggest consideration was the peace of mind of our people."

Applebaum said the tragedies of September 11 accelerated discussions within Random about the value of holding several national sales conferences a year; Random had a national meeting in Arizona in April and regional meetings in August. The revised November meeting will cover titles set for publication in the company's summer season, which runs from May through August. Random currently publishes on a three-season schedule, but that pattern could change in the future. The timing of national sales conferences "has not always been in sync with the selling cycles of some of our customers," Applebaum said. "Our goal is to marry our sales presentations with the selling cycles of our customers," he added, saying that individual Random publishers have the ability to set selling cycles that meet the needs of their accounts.

Random has not yet determined what its sales conference schedule will be for 2002, although Applebaum said the publisher is sure to use "more electronic tools to reach reps and facilitate interactive discussions" between publishers and the sales forces. "We could do two selling cycles or 12," Applebaum said.