Director Michael Robertson who have led a team that has been
working non-stop on this show since it was first announced in
October of last year. Our interview with Dan and Michael begins
Journal: Fabulous.com had long been a fixture at
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and other major industry conferences. What led to
your decision to stage your own conference in Australia and as a
follow-up, why did you decide to run it under the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Every industry conference that I attended would always lead
to the same question from dozens of mouths, “When are you
going to have a conference in Australia?”, and would
inevitably be followed by “I’m so looking forward to
when you do, I will be there!” Now it’s time
for people to book their tickets! Australians
have a very deep sense of love for our country and we
naturally want to share that love with everyone else in the
world. It was never really ever a question of if, but
when, and now is the time. I can guarantee that there
will never be another conference like this one again. We
want to leave a good impression and let everyone experience
what it’s like to be Australian. Everything is being done
bigger, more elaborate, and excessive. Think
domain conference on steroids!
As far as why T.R.A.F.F.I.C.? Well, Fabulous has a
history with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. that dates back to before
it was called T.R.A.F.F.I.C.. The very first domain
show was really a gathering of around 80 people in Hollywood
|Dean Shannon founded our
company, and as an avid user of Rick Schwartz’s domain
board he decided with Rick that everyone should get
together. So in only a few weeks time Dean and Rick
got everyone together to meet at the Regent’s Beverly
Wilshire hotel. That gathering was later fondly
nicknamed “DeanFest”. Rick, as strong a
personality as he is, prompted us to have another meeting
for the next two years until he decided it was time to do it
himself – and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. was born! Rick is a
tenacious party animal that occasionally likes to rub cats
the wrong way. In Australia, we like people
Robertson: There’s also an element of revenge; putting all the International attendees through the grueling 13+ hours of travel that we undertake every time we travel to the States and Europe. For a change we won’t be the ones battling through the jet lag!
Journal: How did you come to settle on the Gold
Coast location, which I believe is about a 60-90 minute
drive from your headquarters in Brisbane?
Warner: The Gold Coast was an easy choice
as its beaches are among the best in the world, it has
access to a lot of the “extras” that we wanted to bring
into the conference this time (like joy flight helicopters,
paintball, zorbing), and the Sheraton Marina Mirage is a
unique hotel (the only one built directly on the beach on
the Gold Coast). It’s an easy place to work hard,
and play harder. Brisbane is a great city for
commerce, but the Gold Coast is the center of fun.
Business Development Director
Robertson: For us, it will be the shortest journey we will have to make for a conference, which I’m looking forward
to :-). As you mentioned, it’s only a short trip between the Gold Coast and Brisbane, where our office is located, so if anyone arrives early or extends their stay, feel free to stop by our Brisbane office and say hi.
Journal: With the increase in the number of conferences
being run each year by various promoters, it has become more
important for each show to differentiate itself from the pack
so that prospective attendees will know they will be getting a fresh
product for their money. Aside from the stunning locale, what
factors do you think will make T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under a unique
experience for registrants and what do you see as some of the
highlights from the show week agenda?
speaking at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
West conference in Las Vegas - Feb. 2008
Warner: The format is completely different to any
other domain conference - including the traditional T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
shows. Sessions are grouped into major topical groups
but every presentation stands on its own as a unique
presentation. There are no panels! Speakers can
only speak once, are required to use presentation
slides or media, and are the one authority on their segment.
Forget waffling speakers who don’t come prepared and often
show up on the day not knowing they are on a panel.
Waffles are for breakfast! Speakers were only selected
on their merits and no degree of sponsorship could
buy you a spot. Know your stuff, prepare diligently,
and take pride in your topic. Professional,
professional, professional. Add the CEO of ICANN
and the Founder of WotIf.com to the menu and you have
a powerful business catalyst.
hitting as the content and presentations are going to be,
the fun will be just as intense! How many other
|domain conferences have you been
to that have a Conference Entertainment Plan?
Here are a few of the things we are going to have going on:
paintball, zorbing, go-cart racing, fire twirling dancers,
snakes, koalas, wombats, cocktail bars, five star menu,
illusionist comedian, “shrimps on the Barbie”, beach
volleyball, helicopter scenic flights, jet boat thrill
rides, aboriginal dancers, music bands, surfing lessons,
wildlife parks, cruise catamarans, and fireworks! All
in one of the most scenic locations in the world.
Journal: Australia has produced many of the key players
in the domain industry and Aussies have been loyal supporters of
industry events despite the burden of having to continually travel
half way around the world for conferences that have been held
primarily in the U.S. and Europe. Based on how
your registration efforts have been going, are domainers from
outside Australia signing up to repay the favor? Also, roughly what
kind of percentage breakdown do you expect in terms of attendees
from Australia/New Zealand vs. the rest of the world?
Warner: Domain conferences are always a
little weird to deal with – a little like the
people ;-) Most people sign-up at the last minute.
Sponsors on the other hand are a reasonable indicator and we
have had great support. Twenty two sponsors to date,
and virtually every sponsorship opportunity is sold out.
It’s still a month before the conference and I believe we
have about 200 people who have actually paid for their
tickets (Yes, they are real people). We get new signups
every day and I expect a rush about two weeks out from the
conference (make sure you apply for a visa online).
Roughly, about a third are from the Australasia
Journal: As Australian domainers know from their
many trips to the U.S. and Europe, travel between the
continents is expensive. However I have noticed that the
Australian dollar has dropped considerably against
the U.S. dollar recently. When I booked my airline ticket
last week, the cost was $500 lower than when I had
checked just a couple of
Australian domainer Michael Gilmour
(at right in the photo above, clowning around with
Larry Fischer) is among those who have registered for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
|weeks earlier. The room
rates for the show were also very attractive. Despite the
downturn in the general economy is this an especially
opportune time to travel Down Under?
Warner: The Australian dollar is very favorable to
the US dollar right now, and with the markets scaring people - plane
tickets are getting really cheap. The exchange rate as
I make this response is valuing the Australian dollar at less than 70
cents when only a few months ago it was nearly dollar for
dollar. An Australian dollar still spends very similar in
Australia to what a US dollar spends like in the US. So one
very simple way to look at it is that you get another 40% for
your money if you are lying on the beach here, rather than if you
were in the cold in the US.
Co-Founder Howard Neu
can't wait to begin his trip Down Under
Robertson: The way I look at it, a lot of Americans and Europeans have Australia on their list of top places to visit. Having a work related conference to attend just sweetens the deal. Write it off as a business expense and spend a little extra time out here enjoying our beautiful country.
Journal: People go to conferences hoping to make
new business contacts while also re-connecting with old
friends. There will certainly be a lot of new faces at
this show, at least from the perspective of those coming in
from other countries. What can you tell us about how active
the Australian domain community is and the kinds of people
many of us will have an opportunity to meet for the first
Australian domain owners are well represented at all the
domain conferences. We seem to be here,
|and everywhere. So you will
see a lot of familiar faces - as we ride in to the
conference on our kangaroos, drag in our pet crocodiles, and
constantly talk about cooking seafood on a grill ;-)
Australians are similar to entrepreneurs all over the world
– with a little something extra. We have a
black and sometimes odd sense of humour, spell differently (humour
vs humor), drink excessively, love poker, and our country.
We are very proud to be Australians. Australians are
really not “in the box” or “painting within the
lines” kind of thinkers.
with part of the menagerie he has been unleashing at conferences for
year to get people in the right frame of mind for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Robertson: As Dan mentioned earlier, this is the first conference of this scale to be held in Australia. Over the years there have been a few localized events, but most have been informal get togethers in which a dozen or so domainers will meet for a bit to eat and a few drinks.
We have actually been surprised be the number of Australian signups. We thought we knew all players in the Australian market, but more and more seem to be
coming out of the woodwork to attend the conference.
Journal: You have put in a ton of advance work on this
event and a glance at the show
week schedule shows exactly how ambitious an undertaking
this has been for you. Conference staging is not your usual line of
work and you have said this would be a one-time event. Give
us some background on what has been involved in putting together a
world class event like this. Also, if everything goes especially
well whether could you be persuaded to do it again?
We have hundreds of man hours worth of internal labor that
was spent just organizing the event. Every cent
of the attendance fee and much more is being spent on the
participants - it costs us more than USD $1,400 per
person to pay all the expenses. I finally understand why Rick
Schwartz would get so angry when people ask for
We are giving back so much to the people who
are coming that we should be charging far more, not less
(any conference profits go to the Internet
Commerce Association). It’s an
extraordinary value, and this conference offers more than
any other ever created. In Australia we do nothing by
half! Although it is possible that we may have a
single day event in the future, nothing like this will ever
be done again. It’s a product of love and pride –
gets some love from
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Rick Schwartz
Robertson: I honestly don’t think we knew what we were getting ourselves into when we signed up to hold this conference in our own backyard. Having been to a dozen or more conferences myself, I didn’t realize how much actually goes into planning and executing a conference of this scale.
We have made a conscious effort to be at every major domain conference this year and in everyone’s face letting them know about our show. We realize that it is a huge commitment to travel all the way to Australia, (we know, we do the trip up to 6 times a year), so we have to constantly be out there promoting the show in order to make it a successful event.
I think if anyone knows how we run our business, Fabulous.com, they would expect us to put the same amount of passion, dedication and hard work into this conference. And they would be exactly right. A lot of time, energy and resources have gone into this event, from the initial conception to present day. Everything from sourcing a viable venue, planning the agenda, activities, speakers, email blasts, press releases, I could go on and on. I truly
take my hat off to the various conference organizers that put on shows year after year.
I think it is admirable that despite all of the work
Fabulous.com has put into this, you have committed to use
any profits from the event to support the efforts of the
Internet Commerce Association. You have also set up a
charity domain auction to raise additional funds for the ICA.
Why did you think it was important to use your platform to
help fund the non-profit industry trade association?
Warner: There are a lot of risk factors in the
industry that cannot be addressed easily by any one company
or individual. The intent of the ICA is to manage those risks
for our industry through group representation. We think that
it is important to support the ICA, so that we can all be unified
and stronger through community and collective power. The ICA should
strive to become the center of our communication network, our legal
defense, and our public relations advocate. The conference
also deals directly with many ICA centric issues in the
presentations being offered. People should know why and
how they can get involved.
Journal: In closing, let me just open the floor for you
to comment on any aspects of the show or the domain industry at
large that you would like to touch on before we let you go.
Warner: We approached this conference with five
major objectives in mind:
1. Make this conference different,
unique, extraordinary, and unforgettable.
2. Offer people value,
which is hard to describe, difficult to replicate, and leads
to tangible results.
Showcase the wonders of Australia while offering
networking opportunities and new relationships.
Instill a sense of community within domain owners and
a desire to unselfishly communicate.
Offer efficient ways to communicate and profit.
I think that we have definitely
created a platform for these objectives to be accomplished. The rest
is up to those who dare to take the bull by the horns, and
travel to this unique conference in one of the best locations on
||You can get more information on T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Down Under and register at the conference
website. The week will include live domain
auctions from Aftermarket.com
keynote speakers Dr. Paul Twomey (CEO of ICANN)
and Graeme Wood (Founder of WotIf.com) as well
as presentations from many other key figures that you will
find listed here.
From an entertainment perspective,
|the fun factor will
undoubtedly be off the chart. I have had a close up
look at the Fabulous.com crew in action for several years
now and nobody knows how to have a good time, and make sure those
around them have a good time too, than these pioneering
domainers from Down Under.