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Biggest T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Domain Conference To Date Coming to Las Vegas May 2-5
 

By Ron Jackson

Co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu roll out the 5th edition of their popular T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domain conference May 2-5 at the plush Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. This is the second go-round for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West in Las Vegas and it promises to continue the tradition of excellence set by last year's show at the same venue, the two T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conferences that have been held in Florida and the most recent event, a special Silicon Valley show held in Santa Clara in January. 

The Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas
Site of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West, May 2-5, 2006

There is a saying in business that you should "under promise and over deliver" to assure customer satisfaction. When people hear Rick Schwartz talk about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. for the first time, most of them would bet their last cent that he had never heard that axiom and would never be able to deliver the transcendent experience he promised. However with four shows behind him that have produced nothing but rave reviews from attendees, doubters have become few and far between. 

You might think Schwartz would quit while he is ahead. After all, no one can bat 1.000 forever, but when we got together with him to discuss the upcoming show, Schwartz set his own bar higher than ever. He predicts Las Vegas 2006 will be T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s biggest hit yet.  

DN Journal: Since your first Las Vegas show was so successful last year, you could have played it safe by running a carbon copy of that event. Instead you are introducing some new wrinkles aimed at keeping things fresh. Letís start by talking about some of the program changes you are bringing to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West.

Rick Schwartz
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder
 

Rick Schwartz: This yearís show will focus on networking and the largest live domain auction ever held. The one thing we heard over and over again at the Silicon Valley show were domainers and sponsors wanting to connect with folks that they have done business with for many years but have never met. 

I finally met one guy that I started doing business with in 1997 but had never met. He was from Greece. He has paid me month after month and we have exchanged many emails and even talked on the phone a few times. But when we met and shook hands and hugged, it brought the level of our business relationship up a couple of notches. I am sure almost every attendee has a story like that and we want to make sure that keeps happening.

The reason that no two shows are alike is because we are cutting edge. We are trailblazing in the truest sense of the word. After each show we reassess what we have accomplished and then evaluate where we are at, what is important and how we can make the show better and more important. The show we run is not a standard trade show. We have taken an industry that was obscure and we have finally begun to get the recognition we all knew was possible.

The live domain auction complete with a professional and entertaining auctioneer will be the largest live domain auction ever held. We expect millions of dollars of domain names to change hands. The quality of domain names that will be auctioned off make the auction itself worth the cost of attending the show. 

The auction will be a fixture at this and future shows after the very successful auction in Florida last year. It is run and sponsored by Moniker.com. Domainers should bring their checkbooks or be prepared to wire the funds within 3 business days after the end of the show.

Moniker.com CEO Monte Cahn (left) with 
auctioneer Joe Langbaum at the live T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
domain auction in Florida (October 2005)

Additionally, for the first time ever, there will be on the spot domain financing for domain purchases (provided by Domain Capital). Details on pre-qualifying will be emailed to all attendees. That in and of itself is a huge development and we expect it to play a major role in making this auction very successful.

DN Journal: Tell us about some of the speakers and subject matter you have lined up for your seminars.

 

Schwartz: We have two huge PPC (pay per click) company seminars. We are calling the first one Tale of Two Cities. It is no secret that there are two giants in this field, namely Google and Yahoo! One only has to look at their two home pages to understand that they both have a considerably different view of the universe. 

 

In prior shows they were both included in panels with other PPC companies. Attendees have said that they would like to see these two companies (represented by Yahoo's Josh Meyers and Google's Eytan Elbaz) go head to head so that they can get a clearer picture of how they approach things and their take on the domain channel as well as what the future might hold. This seminar will answer those questions and we feel it will be a fascinating exchange of ideas. 

 

Ready to Rumble! Josh Meyers of Yahoo! Search Marketing (left) 
and Eytan Elbaz, head of the domain channel at Google.com

 

In the second PPC panel we will have no less than TEN companies on stage to tell the attendees what they are doing to better monetize the traffic that domainers have. The competition right now is fierce and innovations are happening at a very fast pace. The panel will include DomainSponsor.com, Fabulous.com, Sedo.com, TrafficClub.com, Dotzup.info, PremiumTraffic.com, SmartName.com, TrafficZ.com, NameDrive.com and YesDirect.com.

 

Itís hard to imagine that just a year and a half ago there were few domainers that had actually met the folks that pay them. Now they do business, are friends, party with them and look for new ways to make more money. Partners in the truest sense of the word.

Once there is money involved with the levels we are talking about, investors and Wall Street are not far behind. These folks are very impressed with the level of profits we have shown them and we are now on their radar screen in a very big way. The foundation has now been laid and the essential groups are present to move this industry forward and upward. 

Folks are partnering up and development is on the lips of every domainer there. As I mentioned above, financing of domains will break things wide open. The entire face of this industry is changing and those who attend are finding folks very receptive to new ideas and there are some huge deals in the works. 

DN Journal: Interest in the industry has grown phenomenally in the past year.  With this explosion of interest, every Traffic show has been bigger than the one before. How is Las Vegas shaping up with respect to registration response?

 

Ari Bayme, VP at New York investment 
bank Milbank Roy will be among the 
financial experts speaking in Las Vegas

 

Schwartz: The Las Vegas show is already our largest T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show ever. But more important than how big the show is would be WHO is coming. We have assembled the biggest and the best for a very tightly wrapped event. We have eliminated the "Noise" of a standard trade show by allowing only qualified folks to attend. That is the reason that we will continue to remain by invitation only. It is the reason you canít come to a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show for $99. 

 

When you come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. you know everyone there has spent thousands of dollars to attend. That forces attendees to do business and make sure that they get a return on that expense. Folks that donít understand that donít come and that is okay. When folks look around they know they are dealing with serious folks that work hard and expect great things. They donít have to worry about wasting their time with folks that are not qualified. For domainers and businesses that say they can not afford to come my response is a simple one, you canít afford not to come!

 

Folks are skeptical at first and it does cost a great deal of money to attend. But that is a great qualifier. Every domainer has the opportunity to take advantage of what we do. It is up to them to seize the opportunity or let it pass them by. But once they come, they are won over in the first few hours. When they see the level of professionalism, the quality of the attendees and they see Howard and I and our wives greet each person that comes and give them that extra attention, they know they are in the midst of a life changing experience. 

 

DN Journal: While you have brought a fresh approach to each Traffic show, you have also kept certain elements that have become show trademarks unchanged, such as an upscale atmosphere and top notch customer service. How does your venue help you to maintain that consistency?

Schwartz: The Venetian is one of the best hotels in Las Vegas and therefore one of the best anywhere. There used to be a commercial on TV and it said something to the effect that you could never go wrong buying the best. The Venetian is a great example. Not only is it the largest hotel in the USA, it has a great atmosphere, their rooms are world class and they have more restaurants and shops than you can even count.

The Venetian is first class and so is the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show. We have followed that theme with our new home for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. in Florida too as we will be moving to the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood (a Miami suburb) in October. This is without doubt the single best venue in all of Florida. The hotel is directly on the sand of the Atlantic Ocean, the rooms are stunning and the facility and management are top notch. 

 

One of the stunning corridors
at the Venetian Hotel - Las Vegas

 

When we started looking for venues we needed more than just a building with rooms. We needed partners that were as concerned as much as we were that we had good service, great food and could put on a successful event that folks would enjoy and want to come back to. The hotels we have chosen along the way are professionals and that makes us all look good and we can focus on the seminars and networking and not running around trying to put out fires.

 

DN Journal: Las Vegas has proved to be a popular destination in the West, but Silicon Valley, originally envisioned as a one-time event, was also a hit for you. Do you plan to keep both west coast shows in 2007? 

 

Schwartz: No question that the Silicon Valley show exceeded all of our expectations, both in content and in the amount of attendees and the quality of the attending companies. Many thought we could not pull it off with just 10 weeks to plan the event, find a venue and have folks register. I think we proved that the industry is thirsty to move forward. We are exploring the possibility of a repeat performance but we are also thinking of having one show a year change venues each time. 

 

We have been kicking around the idea of a London show. There are lots of things on the horizon. We just want to do what will be best for the industry. We donít want to do a show just for the sake of doing a show. We want to kick the ball down the field. We are already discussing 2007 and 2008. We would like to move the Florida show to February if we can as the weather in Florida in February is the best on the planet. I donít think we will make a decision until we talk to the folks in Las Vegas and get their feedback. 

 

DN Journal: What would you say to those who are thinking about making the trip to Las Vegas, but aren't sure if they should request an invitation?

 

Schwartz: Whether you attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C. or stay home you will still benefit by what we are doing. However, if you have not attended any of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. events and you are a serious domainer or sponsor, not coming is costing you money. Itís really that simple. I donít know how much plainer I can be. You are being left behind by not cementing relationships and your business is not growing as fast as it could be. 

 

Some say they can buy another domain or two with the money they THINK they are saving. I would say to them that the extra dollars they will make by attending T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will buy dozens of domains. Just ask anyone that has actually attended one of our shows. I doubt you could find a single person that was not thrilled with the result. 

 

Earlier I said ĒYou canít afford not to come.Ē  That is not some meaningless slogan I pulled out of thin air. In 1993 I went to Hong Kong to try and transform my lighting business. Business was tough in those days and my back was up against the wall. I could not afford to make that $12,000 trip. But I could not afford not to make the trip. So I charged the trip on my credit card and knew this was a make or break trip. I doubt I slept for 10 hours during those 10 days. Each day I would wake up at 5am (if I even went to sleep the night before) and be on my way. 

 

I would have appointments starting at 8am and would not return to my hotel until midnight. Then I would research all night until I collapsed and then repeated the same thing day after day. That trip changed my life and I will never forget it. When I got home it took me 3 weeks to recover. I was a mess but I laid the foundation that would change my life forever. Without that trip I would have never bought my first domain name. 

 

That formula is embedded in T.R.A.F.F.I.C.. Anyone willing to step up to the plate and attend will have their lives transformed because that is our goal and I know we have achieved it because I have heard it directly from each attendee. There is really great satisfaction in knowing you have changed someoneís life in just a couple days. I am proud of what we have accomplished. So if you are one of those on the fence because of cost, make the plunge. We promise a life changing experience.

 

 

Yes, we are by invitation only and we will stay that way as long as T.R.A.F.F.I.C. runs. It is not difficult to receive an invite. We just have to know who you are by hearing a little about your company and some of the domains you own. If that offends some people, so be it. Nobody forces anyone to come. We just want to keep the quality of attendees limited to serious business professionals and folks depend on us to make sure that those that attend are qualified. The folks that come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. are good people and that is really the only requirement. 

 

There are only two ways to do business, the right way and every other way. We want to insure that folks that come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. do business the right way. So the bar to attend is not set that high. We donít ask how much money you make or even care. All size domainers are welcome as are sponsors, investors and advertisers. We are all very fortunate to be part of such a great industry with such a promising future.

 

DN Journal: While you and Howard Neu have done a ton of legwork to make these shows successful, they couldn't be done on such a grand scale without the support of the forward thinking companies that plow money back into events like this to keep pushing the industry forward. As we noted in our March newsletter, we think companies that give something back to the domain community deserve recognition. Who will be helping to pay the bills in Las Vegas?

Schwartz: DomainSponsor.com is once again the overall show sponsor and their official T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  parties are legendary. This year they promise a party at The Palms which is the hottest spot in all of Las Vegas!! They are joined with more than a dozen other T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West sponsors that include Yahoo.com, Google.com, Fabulous.com, Sedo.com, TrafficZ.com, Afternic.com, Skenzo.com, Golfcourses.com, Smartname.com, Moniker.com, BuyDomains.com, Casale Media, Pool .com, Enom.com and several others. 

Howard Neu
Traffic Co-Founder 

 

There will be well over 100 other companies from more than 10 countries joining with the worldís top domainers at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West. When you bring that type of group together only great things can happen. And while we do work hard, we have loads of fun, plenty of great food, giveaways and make money. 

 

We look forward to seeing our old friends and are excited to meet new ones. We are truly an industry of great people that have come from every walk of life to converge on an opportunity never seen before. Together we have recognized the value of domains, traffic and the chance that the Internet has given all of us to fulfill our dreams! 

 

  *****

 

Editor's Note: DN Journal will be in Las Vegas to cover T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West for you. We plan to publish our wrap-up article on May 11 as the second part of twin Cover Stories for May (part 1, scheduled to appear April 27, will be our wrap-up of the Domain Roundtable conference in Seattle which runs April 19-21).


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