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T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014: A Pictorial Review from an Unforgettable 10th Anniversary Show on Miami Beach

By Ron Jackson

The 10th anniversary edition of the pioneering T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference that concluded earlier this month at the historic Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach marked the end of a era. After two dozen shows held at five-star venues around the world, conference Co-Founder Rick Schwartz said goodbye at the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East event that concluded November 2nd. 

After achieving all of the goals he set out with when he and fellow T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu staged the first major domain conference in October 2004 (at Delray Beach, Florida) - including helping domain investing and development evolve from a lucrative hobby into a full blown industry - Schwartz was finally ready for a change from the frenetic pace. 

He had never needed the money or the aggravation that comes with producing an event of this magnitude, but he always had a  vision of how valuable domains would become and he needed a platform to build credibility for domains as an asset class and establish that what he saw was not just a pipe dream. Just four years 

 

Cover of the official show program for the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference that ended Nov. 2 
at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

into the mission he saw $12 million worth of domain names sold in a single day at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York live auction in 2007 - a stunning affirmation of what he always believed was true. 

There have been ups and downs along the way (including a huge global recession) but the high value of quality domains has now been firmly established. So has a global family of domain investors, developers and service providers, many of whom got the chance to meet face to face for the first time thanks to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Those encounters have helped countless individuals and companies achieve tremendous growth and build relationships that in many cases will last a lifetime. 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz (left) and Howard Neu share a laugh while welcoming attendees to the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference on the first day of business at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach Thursday morning, October 31.

With  Schwartz entering "semi-retirement" it remains to be seen what T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will look like going forward. Howard Neu would like to carry the flag forward and if he does he has already said some changes would be made. While he would want to maintain the high quality environment T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has been known for he also wants to make it more affordable for more people to attend. 

Given the size of the job any number of scenarios could play out. Taking on a partner to help handle the  workload Schwartz had shouldered (Rick was responsible for programming the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.) is a possibility though Howard believes that with the help of wife Barbara and son Ray, (who have been an integral part of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. from the start), the Neus could do it alone, maintaining the family vibe that has been a hallmark of the event. Or he could go in the opposite direction, call it a great decade and join Rick in selling to new owners. Neu expects some final decisions on the future shape of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will be made within the next couple of months. 

(L to R) Howard Neu, Barbara Neu, Kaitlyn O'Connor and Ray Neu at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s Masquerade Ball on Halloween night (October 31, 2014) at the Fontainebleau Hotel.

While we wait for that news, let us give you a full visual picture of what happened at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014, a show that will be especially memorable to all who were there for many reasons in addition to it being a landmark anniversary event as well as the one where T.R.A.F.F.I.C. closed the books on one era and prepared to open them on another. 

As always we posted daily photos and highlights from the conference while it was underway in our Lowdown section. You can review those posts here:

Photos & Highlights from the First Day of Pre-Show Networking at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East on Miami Beach  

Photos and Highlights from Opening Night at the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Conference at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach

Photos and Highlights from Day 2 of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014 Friday in Miami Beach, Florida 

Photos & Highlights from Saturday's Final Business Day and Sunday's Farewell Breakfast at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East in Miami Beach

Since we covered the nuts and bolts in those posts, we will let the photos do the talking in this final overview and to keep things fresh none of  these photos has been published in DNJournal before now. This format is perfect for a show that, due to its stunningly scenic location and colorful social events, provided an endless procession of great "photo opportunities" ((including announcement of a wedding engagement!). All of the shots in this article were shot by either DNJournal or Barbara Neu, whose camera skills and presence at every key event allows us to bring you twice as much coverage as we otherwise could have.  

To set the scene, let's start with a shot Barbara took when pre-show cabana networking got underway on a postcard perfect day at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Wednesday morning, October 29.

Above: Barbara caught my wife, Diana, and I taking a dip in the circular pool at the center of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s private cabana area for show attendees. Individual cabanas ringed the outside of the circle with a larger cabana for food and drink service sitting on an island in the middle of the pool.

Below: Negar Hajikhani (Sedo.com), at left, with the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. "goodie" bag she had just picked up at the registration desk and Judi Berkens. To the right you see the food service cabana situated on an island in the middle of the pool that dispensed an endless supply of mojitos and snacks during pre-show cabana networking.

Also at the central cabana, Mr. Nguyen Trong Khoa (right), who came all the way from Vietnam with a surprise for T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz - a framed map of Vietnam made completely from rice!

After the cabana networking wound down Thursday afternoon (October 30), first time T.R.A.F.F.I.C. attendees were welcomed at the traditional orientation ceremony - but this one had a very interesting special feature. The audience was treated to a 20-minute History of T.R.A.F.F.I.C video, expertly produced by Danny Pryor (whose photo is inset at top left over a scene from the production.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014 officially got underway Thursday evening, October 30, 2014 with the Opening Night Welcome Party held on an outdoor deck at the Fontainebleau that overlooked the beautiful hotel grounds on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. laid out a spectacular dinner buffet but some people - like ParkingCrew.com's Jim Grace - couldn't resist sampling the desserts first!

Above: Enjoying the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Opening Night Party, where they were flanked by two of the lovely T.R.A.F.F.I.C. models, are Luis Petzhold (Petzhold.com) and Michael Riedl (NameDrive.com).

Below: Also standing out in the crowd were (L to R) were Adrienne Phillips (ProtectedParking.com), Jason Smith (Nixxie Ltd.), Tracy Fogarty (DomainHoldings.com), Justin Mountford (Nixxie Ltd.) and Andy Chang (Cash Ventures Corp.).

Above: When the sun went down, the dancers got up!

Below: Lighting up the night (left to right) were Natalie Lambert (Uniregistry.com), Tessa Holcomb (Igloo.com), Barbara Neu (T.R.A.F.F.I.C.) and Kirsten Szymczyk (Afternic.com).

After a great opening night party, the first day of business at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014 began Friday morning, October 31, with attendees enjoying a bountiful breakfast buffet while being welcomed to the show by conference Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu (on stage).

Below: The first business session was a panel discussion covering the latest trends in The Domain Aftermarket. The panel featured (L to R): Scott Pruitt (NameJet.com), Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com), moderator Braden Pollock (LegalBrandMarketing.com), Tessa Holcomb (Igloo.com) and Larry Fischer (DirectNavigation.com). 

Above: In the second morning session Friday (Oct. 31) Adam Dicker (TheArtOfTheName.com) conducted a seminar or how to Turn a Domain Name Into a Business in less than 90 minutes.

Below: The Friday lunch break feature the first ever Rick Schwartz Roast to send the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder into retirement with a smile on his face!

Above: On the dais to grill Rick Schwartz during his going away roast were (L to R): Braden Pollock, Victor Pitts, Pinky Brand, Michael Berkens, Howard Neu, the guest of honor (standing), Gregg McNair, Ari Goldberger, John Berryhill, The Unknown Roaster and Ilze Kaulins Plaskacz.

Below: Gregg McNair delivers a zinger that left honoree Rick Schwartz in stitches.

Above: It was back to business after the Roast. After Chris Derose (Derose Techologies) conducted a session on Crypto Currency and Commerce, Michael Berkens (above) from TheDomains.com, joined Adam Dicker and Rick Schwartz to talk about Domain Industry Abuses, Schemes and Scams to look out for.

Below: Capping the first day of business (Friday, Oct. 31) was a panel discussion answering Questions About New gTLDs that featured Daniel Schindler (in the photo below) from Donuts.co, Jeff Sass (.CLUB) and Simon Cousins (TLD Registry).

Friday evening, October 31 was Halloween Night, the perfect occasion for the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Masquerade Ball and Dinner. With show organizers offering a $1,000 cash prize for the best costume (chosen by fellow guests) attendees came up with some fabulous outfits.  

Above: Larry and Diane Samson in technicolor!

Below: (L to R) Marty Kaulins, Sandra Gordon (Escrow.com) Brandon Abbey (Escrow.com) and Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz formed an intimidating quartet!

Above: Carmella Savanello (Barbara Neu's mom) cuts a rug with Eddie Sixto.

Below: (L to R); Kirsten Szymczyk, Daniel Schindler, Andee Hill, Tracy Fogarty, Gregg McNair, Tessa Holcomb and Larry Fischer, show their wild sides. 

Above: The winning costume prize went to Diana Jackson who, starting from scratch, hand made the Isis and Pharoah costumes the she and husband Ron wore at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Masquerade Ball.

The next morning (Saturday, November 1) began with a breakfast session that featured Two-Minute Elevator Pitches where anyone could take the stage to talk about their business, followed by an update on 2014 sales in the domain aftermarket delivered by Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com).

Then it was time for one of the show's highlights, presentation of the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Awards. This year four different individual or companies took home two awards each. 

Above: Adam Dicker (far right) won the highest individual award - Domainer of the Year, as well as the Developer of the Year honor. Adam also accepted two awards on behalf of his friend Michael Cyger (DomainSherpa.com), who was unable to attended. Michael won the Blogger of the Year award and was also one of two new members inducted into the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Hall of Fame, along with attorney John Berryhill.

Below: Sevan Derderian picked up two awards for Uniregistry.com who won both the Best Overall Domain Solution award and the Sponsor of the Year award. 

Above: Also in the double win club at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2014 Awards ceremony were Jeff Sass and Colin Campbell from .CLUB who won the Most Promising new gTLD award and the Best Marketing of a New gTLD award. 

Individual awards also went to Sedo's Dave Evanson for Broker of the Year, Richard Lau, who was named Bandit Berkens Goodwill Ambassador award winner and Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz who won T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s  first Women in Domaining award.

A special T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Hall of Fame award was also presented in memory of the late great Ren Warmuz of Trellian.com and Above.com who lost a long battle with cancer a year ago. 

Above: As part of the ceremony honoring Ren Warmuz a great music video produced during Ren's days as a talented singer/musician in the 1980s was screened (this is a scene from that video).

Below: Ren's Above.com friends and colleagues Nancy Bianchi and Victor Pitts came to the stage to accept the Hall of Fame award in Ren's honor. Nancy shared some moving memories of the energetic young entrepreneur who we lost much too soon.

Above: After Saturday's awards ceremony, the day's first business session - a Domain Name Broker Roundtable - featured new Broker of the Year award winner Dave Evanson (above) from Sedo along with Alan Hack, George Hong (Guta.com), Tessa Holcomb (Igloo.com) and James Wester (DomainGraffiti.com).

Below: In between sessions attendees visited sponsor booths in the exhibit area. .CLUB drew a steady stream of traffic to their booth with a "wheel of fortune" that anyone could spin to win various cash and product prizes. Barbie Sixto was among those collecting a prize from .CLUB's Jeff Sass

Above: Back in the conference hall George Hong (above) from Guta.com joined Simon Cousins (TLD Registry) and Jeremy Marx (Beyond the Dot) in a fascinating session that helped Demystify the Chinese Domain Market.

Below: The final business session of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014 followed. The Meeting of the Chiefs brought executives from several key companies to the dais to answer audience questions on a variety of topics. The panelists included John Ferber (left) from DomainHoldings.com) and Michael Castello (right) from Castello Cities Internet Network. John and Michael were joined by Bill McClure (Coffee.org), Dave Evanson (Sedo.com), Victor Pitts (Above.com) and Gregg McNair (Igloo.com and others).

Above: With business out of the way, guests got back together Saturday evening for a closing night Dessert Party at the Fontainebleau. Joel Knott (at left) from Hail.com homed in on the crispy churros and chocolate fountain.

Below: Also staking a spot next to one of the dessert tables were (L to R): Bennie Sparkman, Deepak Daftari and Luis Petzhold.

Above: Rick Schwartz with Bill McClure (right) who made some big news at the Dessert Party when he announced a $100,000 deal to acquire Coffee.club from the .CLUB Registry. Less than a month later Bill, who is a well established veteran of the coffee business, had a new coffee subscription service running on the domain.

Below: Also among those enjoying the Dessert Party were (L to R) Braden Pollock, Ilze Kaulins[Plaskacz, Larry Fischer, Mary Fischer and George Hong

Above: There was one final event left on the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2014 schedule - Sunday morning's traditional Farewell Breakfast November 2nd. Here Adam Dicker is fueling up for the trip home. 

Below: A personal highlight of the conference was Duane Bailey of VeriSign announcing his engagement to Lola Lunstrom . We snapped this photo of the happy couple at breakfast Sunday morning. Congratulations Duane and Lola!

The 10th anniversary edition of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is now in the books and it more than lived up to the standard of excellence T.R.A.F.F.I.C. started with a decade ago and maintained through more than 2 dozen shows. 

Howard Neu had concluded the Rick Schwartz Roast Friday (Oct. 31) by singing a customized version of "My Way" to his long time partner. One more tune would have been appropriate at the Farewell Breakfast Sunday - "Thanks for the Memories" - this time with the audience singing to the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders, their families and staff, who have given their guests over the past decade enough great memories to last a lifetime. 

*****


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