April 03, 2015    

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It’s Showtime! T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Doubles in Size for Return Trip to Delray Beach

By Ron Jackson

The debut T.R.A.F.F.I.C. domain show last October in Delray Beach, Florida was a landmark event. It was the first time the domain community had ever come together on such a grand scale and it opened up a critical new networking channel for industry professionals. The success of that show proved the domain business could and would support top level trade shows and paved the way for the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West show in Las Vegas and the inaugural Domain Roundtable conference in Seattle, which were each held last May.


The response to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2005, coming up October 18-22, is ample evidence that the appetite for such gatherings is getting bigger. 125 domainers showed up at the Delray Beach Marriott last year. This time around, show organizers Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu decided to aim for twice as many and easily reached their goal. All 250 seats have sold out.  





Scene from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2004
Delray Beach, Florida

The buzz from last year still hasn’t died down and though that is a good thing it also presents a potential hurdle. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East now has to surpass itself by trying to improve on a performance that 2004 attendees thought was near perfect. It’s a tall order but Schwartz thinks it can be done. “The key is to keep the seminars fresh, timely and important and the attendees to be of the highest caliber,” Schwartz said. “At T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West we brought in the venture capital guys. That was a step in the right direction and even though they disappeared as fast as they appeared it was a stepping stone to bigger things. For the new Delray show we are going to have the bankers for the first time. If you could get loans on virtual property, it would transform the entire industry and domain values would skyrocket even faster than they are now.”

Already looking ahead, Schwartz said, “At T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West next spring (May 2-5, 2006 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas), we are aiming for Madison Avenue advertising companies. They have yet to wake up to the fact that ad revenue is leaving traditional media like TV, print and radio and are making tracks to the Internet. The Internet is the #1 growth area in advertising and they have yet to embrace us. But they will in time and our job is to accelerate that eventuality by educating them and showing them where the dollars are in the future.” 

 “Each show that we do will open and reveal the next opportunities and things we need to focus on,” Schwartz said. “We are small enough to change on a dime and big enough to have a huge impact on the direction of the industry. By having our finger on the pulse of the net we will continue to have one exciting show after another and each one will be more exciting then the last. So we have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and we are surrounded by folks that understand and embrace what we are doing.”

Scene from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2005
Las Vegas, Nevada

Though T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West was held just five months ago, Schwartz said it will be worthwhile for the people who were there to be on hand at Delray Beach as well. “The attendees are different and the subject matter is different. Most importantly is the timing. The Delray show is poised at the beginning of the Christmas season and much of the dollars spent on Internet ads will take place in the next 60 days and payouts during that time skyrocket as competition for targeted traffic is fierce,” Schwartz said. “Plus we are in a fast moving climate and it is just too long to go an entire year without falling behind and letting their competition pick up the slack. It also cements relationships that may have been born at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West but could be solidified in Delray.” 

Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-founders

Schwartz has been the front man when it comes to publicizing the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows, but at the conference site his partner, attorney Howard Neu, often takes center stage. “The seminars are provocative in part due to the talents of Howard Neu,” Schwartz said. “Howard had a TV interview show for many years and he has a gift for asking pertinent questions and keeping things interesting and moving along. Without him moderating, the outcome would likely be much different. Howard has a pleasant demeanor and even with competitors on stage he is able to keep things extremely friendly. That takes a very special talent and all the panelists are made to feel welcome, comfortable and valued.” 

12 months ago no one knew what to expect from the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference. It is now one of this young industry’s institutions. That has surprised Schwartz as much as anyone else. “Surprised in an understatement!” Schwartz declared. “We started as a 35 person get together and to watch this evolve into the event it has is the most gratifying thing I have ever done. It has taken a life of its own and companies have seen the value in “slowing down” for a few days and analyzing what they do, who they do it with and the direction they are going.” 

“We went to Ad-Tech last April in San Francisco. I was in awe at first. They had hundreds of booths and 5,000 attendees. Then it dawned on me that all that was there was noise. Lots of noise. Everyone was running so fast that they could not see who they wanted and could not accomplish what they needed. At our shows we focus on the biggest and the best and we slow time down to a crawl so folks can meet and think and do. I think these companies have seen the value in what we are doing and bringing the right folks together allows great things to happen.” 

Just as T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has grown and changed over the last 12 months, so has the domain business. Schwartz said the industry landscape is considerably different now than it was going into last year’s show. “We were timid in 2004. We just survived the collapse and we were all a bit hesitant on what the future held,” Schwartz said. “We all came to Delray in an apprehensive way feeling our way through. By the end of the week we knew something very special happened and it transformed the entire industry in how the sponsors look at us and work with us.” 

To illustrate that point, Schwartz noted “last year Yahoo! sent 5 reps and this year they are sending 16 at last count. Last year Google sent 2 and now they send 6, plus they are our newest sponsor. Similarly DomainSponsor.com is sending 16 reps and Fabulous.com and Sedo.com are also sending armies of folks because there is business to be done and there is room to grow their businesses in a big way. At the 2004 show we had perhaps 30 companies represented. The 2005 show swells that number to over 100 companies. The momentum in the business is unmistakable. Prices are going up and folks are starting to understand the difference between crap traffic and prime traffic.” 

An array of seminars are designed to help attendees learn nuances like that. Though we pressed him on which seminars would be especially important, Schwartz was having none of it. “I think it will be easier to tell people which seminars won’t be good. NONE! We have a terrific line up and attendees will be thrilled with every single one of them. There is no dead weight anywhere and we hope to keep that formula in future shows as well.”

Schwartz is also pleased to have landed Andrew Miller and Mike Zapolin of the Internet Real Estate Group (subject of last month’s DNJournal Cover Story) as his keynote speakers. “Last year we had Ben Stein as the keynoter. He was wonderful and gave a thrilling keynote speech. But the feedback was domainers wanted to hear from other domainers or folks at least making money on the web. So in Vegas we got Marc Ostrofsky and he blew them away. For Delray we have Andrew and Mike and destiny is responsible for that.” 

Schwartz explained “It was the first dividend I received after purchasing Property.com in August. Shortly after the sale Andrew Miller sent me an email. It was then followed up by a phone conversation and there was no doubt that Andrew knew the business and was a real businessman. So I invited him to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and then shortly thereafter I asked if he would be interested in being our keynoter. He accepted and we are very excited that he is excited about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and what we are trying to accomplish. There is no doubt that when Andrew and Mike speak there will be a standing room only crowd and you’ll be able to hear a pin drop as everyone there will be paying close attention to what they will be sharing.” 


Andrew Miller (left) & Mike Zapolin (right)
Internet Real Estate Group, LLC
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Keynote Speakers

Many say the opportunity to personally network with people like Miller and Zapolin is the the real strength of this show and Schwartz agrees. “Absolutely. It was what we based the entire concept on from the get go. The seminars add great value and they are heavily attended. But it is the one-on-one networking and breaking bread meal after meal with the core of the industry and the top sponsors that makes T.R.A.F.F.I.C. what it is. Nobody is rushed and folks have time to talk without distractions. They don’t have to use the standard line…"I’ll get back to you after the show.” They can do business and firm up deals right at the show.” 

As Schwartz noted, sponsors are the ones who make events like T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and Domain Roundtable possible, enabling them to propel the industry forward. The relatively few companies that foot the bill should be recognized, especially when there are so many other companies that give little back to this industry or the customers that support them. For T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Schwartz said, “DomainSponsor.com stepped up to the plate the minute we announced what we were doing and they never looked back. Fabulous.com has offered us such help and support it was as if they owned the show. Google.com is a sponsor for the first time and Yahoo! Is back for their second sponsorship. Moniker.com will be hosting a live webmaster radio show and also be holding the first live domain auction ever.”  

“Each sponsor is helping to make T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  important and I want to personally thank them for their support and believing in what we are trying to do and more importantly….succeeding! Without them, it just would not be possible. Afternic.com, Pool.com, Enom.com, TrafficZ.com, EuroDNS.com, Skenzo (Directi.com) and others are making T.R.A.F.F.I.C. a monumental event that can not be missed. GolfCourses.com is providing and paying for a golf outing before the show even starts! It just shows when everyone rows in the same direction what can be accomplished,” Schwartz said. 

A handful of companies will receive special recognition at this conference when the World Association of Domain Name Developers awards their Seal of Approval to three registrars that take domain hijacking seriously. Schwartz said the registrars (who won’t be named until the show) have demonstrated the cooperation and the self policing needed to prevent hijacking and to recover hijacked domains.  

“Only three out of all the registrars met the criteria to receive our seal of approval,” Schwartz said. “A new day has dawned and these registrars that do not take domain hijacking seriously will not be able to display this award on their website. Those that refuse to cooperate will not get the support of the domain industry and others as well. Those registrars that don’t have a sense of urgency and allow hijacked domains to end up with a notorious registrar in France, that is a haven for hijacked domains, will be known by every domainer in the world.” 

Schwartz said, “T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is moving the ball forward and organizing domainers to have some power and say in their destiny. Whether it is the payouts by sponsors or the safe keeping of domains by the registrars it is clear that we as a group have to do this for ourselves. If you are a domainer or a sponsor in our space and you have not attended any of the three events we have held, you are being left behind and your competition is getting the rewards.” 

Schwartz added “You don’t have to take my word for it, just ask those that have attended for their thoughts and you will learn just how serious an effort this is. All domainers will be affected in a beneficial way even without their participation or attendance. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is not great because I say so. It is great because the folks that come say so and the proof is that they come back and take advantage of the environment that we provide for serious people to do serious business. We have nearly every top domainer in the world attending. You can literally see sparks flying as new ideas are born and business is forged. It is lightning in a bottle and that is perhaps the rarest commodity in all the world.”  

Schwartz has come under a lot of pressure to open the show to all comers, but he has refused to budge. “I have taken a lot of flack by making this show by invitation only. But it is this special formula that makes the show so important. Folks know there will be no wannabes there or folks that just want to waste time. Each attendee is spending at least $3,000 to attend and investing several days of their time. They look around and see every seat occupied by someone and a company that they know. Everyone there made a strong financial commitment to be there. They expect a return from that investment and each attendee makes sure that happens.” 

Schwartz closed by noting, “they also have time to laugh and really get to know the folks they are doing business with on a level that is just not possible at a traditional trade show. I just sit back and watch the magic and am amazed that what was once just a dream has turned into the reality it has!”  

Though all 250 seats have been sold, at press time Schwartz was in discussion with the Marriott to see if any additional room can be made. If you are interested should any late openings occur, you can send an email to [email protected] to request an invitation. 

* * * * *

Editor’s Note: DNJournal.com’s coverage of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2005 will be handled a bit differently this year. Last year we left the conference after the final session each afternoon to produce an extensive daily report for you to read the following morning. In doing so we missed some evening interview opportunities and activity that deserved coverage as well. This time around our on-site coverage will consist of daily briefs and photos posted on our Home Page shortly after the afternoon schedule ends each day Wednesday through Friday, October 19-21 (the conference begins with a cocktail party Tuesday evening and closes with a business meeting Saturday morning). This will free us up to cover evening events so we will be able to write a truly comprehensive show wrap-up article for you. We expect to have that piece completed and published on our home page by Monday night, Oct. 24 (U.S. Eastern Standard Time).


For those who would like to comment on this story, we invite you to make use of our Letters to the Editor feature (write to [email protected]).

All previous Cover Stories are available in our Archive


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