The annual DOMAINfest
Global conference returns to Los Angeles this
month and all indications are that attendees will be enjoying
another world class show when the event runs January 26-28.
While the conference's high standards will remain the same - its
location will change for the first time since DOMAINfest Global
debuted with a crowd pleasing maiden
voyage at the Renaissance Hotel in Hollywood
After three years in
that location, DOMAINfest Global is moving across town to LA's
picturesque and popular beachfront community, Santa Monica.
The host hotel is also a head turner - the five star Fairmont
Miramar Hotel that has been a local landmark for more than a
To get the inside
scoop on what is in store for DOMAINfest Global 2010 registrants we
hooked up with Jeff Kupietzky, the President and CEO of Oversee.net
- the company that organizes the popular conference. Our special
interview with Jeff begins below:
Journal: Let’s start by talking about the new location
for DOMAINfest Global. After three highly successful shows in
Hollywood, why was the change made and what can people can expect
from the new venue overlooking the Pacific Ocean – the Fairmont
oceanfront Fairmont Miramar Hotel
in Santa Monica, CA where the DOMAINfest
Global 2010 conference will held Jan. 26-28
The new location is simply beautiful. The
is a world-class hotel and is just across the street from the
beach. Our ability to reserve the entire hotel for the event
gave us the opportunity to offer our guests a very personal touch
that has not been offered by conferences in the past.
We had a good three
years at the Renaissance in Hollywood, but the new venue reflects
the changes and new direction that DFG 2010 is taking in terms of
its agenda and approach to a conference. Our goal is to improve
every year, and DFG 2010 will be a landmark conference for our
Journal: Along with the new setting come some interesting
new agenda highlights – including Pitchfest and Launchfest.
You have an all-star line up of judges in place for each of those
events that are designed to create new business opportunities for
registrants who are selected to present. What kind of response are
you getting for each of those contests?
President & CEO, Oversee.net
We’ve had a lot of early interest. People are
submitting for Pitchfest and are applauding the idea that
there’s room for innovation in domain name monetization
and want to show our judges and audience cutting edge
really an experiment in collaboration where we take
our premium inventory and offer discounted lease costs to
allow entrepreneurs to realize their vision for successful
online businesses. We’re excited to hear the ideas
folks have and to partner with the winner to create a brand
new site. There’s a link to official rules available at www.domainfest.com
Journal: We will also see something new on the
evening social schedule with a night at the
that is a real departure from the norm. On the flip side,
from the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” file, you
have a return trip to the Playboy Mansion on tap the
next night that will undoubedtly be a big crowd pleaser just
as it was last year. Tell us about the brainstorming that
went into the selection of those two big events?
The social calendar this year is a mix of art and pop culture. The
return to the
was an easy choice for us—we just listened to last year’s
attendees. Everyone loved that party. Not many people get the
opportunity to visit the Mansion so it set a new benchmark for us.
Partnering with Jenny McCarthy’s foundation and hosting an
event there just made sense for us and most importantly, our
your question about creating the social calendar, we wanted
to mix it up a little bit by doing something that just
wasn’t another cocktail party. The
was perfect; apart from its award-winning architectural
design it is one of the most dramatic and breathtaking
. The views alone provided the incentive. This venue
provides a classic setting to network and enjoy unique fun
activities such as the mystery art quest and sketching
contest. It was a great way to encourage people to get to
know each other.
Journal: Conference registrants have made it loud
and clear that the main reason they go to shows is to take
advantage of the networking opportunities. The
evening events obviously provide two great ones, but tell us
about what are you doing on the daytime schedule to make
sure people have plenty of time to meet new contacts and
reinforce existing relationships?
From the feedback we received last year, we realized that
holding the networking sessions at the end of the day was
not the best use of the time. Although well-attended, some
folks thought the time of day was too difficult
from the Getty Center
in Los Angeles
year, we moved the sessions to the beginning of the day when
everyone is fresh and alert. Our guests continually tell us how
important networking is to their activities so we wanted to make
sure they’re scheduled properly on the agenda. The networking
opportunities will allow attendees a chance to interact with some of
the industry’s top minds in a relaxed, open setting.
Journal: Of course, the keynote speaker is always a
“main event”. You set the bar pretty high with Apple
Co-Founder Steve Wozniak last
year. Why do you think this year’s speaker, Tony
Hsieh, will have a big impact on the domain owners in
Tony Hsieh shares a lot of similarities with Steve Wozniak.
He offers a unique way of looking at the world and he can
provide a different perspective that illustrates why he’s
been so successful. As a young entrepreneur he’s had
two enormous successes already, selling one business to Microsoft
before investing in and becoming CEO of Zappos.com.
He defied conventional wisdom and took a chance on the shoe
industry when no one thought there was real money to be
made. Tony understands the value of unconventional wisdom
and risk taking.
on his past experiences, Tony will be able to offer a
fascinating retailing perspective as applied to the
Internet. He can really connect with domainers because of
his true understanding of how the Internet works, how to
drive traffic, and how to leverage brands through domains.
And, we’ll be able to hear first-hand why Zappos bought Clothes.com
for close to $5 million.
Keynote Speaker for
DOMAINfest Global 2010
Journal: As always, you will also have a number of
carefully crafted seminars and sessions during the week. What do you
see as some of the likely highlights there?
Jeff Kupietzky: The
theme of the DOMAINfest Global 2010 conference is Domain Names:
Overlooked. Underutilized. Essential to Online Marketing
Success. As you said, the highlights are the richness of
the content and expertise of the speakers, which then offers an
unprecedented opportunity to learn. This year’s speakers
come from a variety of online marketing and business segments
outside of the domain industry, creating opportunities for a rich
exchange of ideas before, during, and after each session.
Killer Domain Names into Killer Websites,” which features
executives from sites such as credit.com and scentiments.com,
will be a panel discussion that focuses on examples of developed
websites that lead their niches in attracting end-users and
generating revenue. Speakers on the panel “Domain Names: How
Prime Internet Real Estate Builds SEO and SEM Success”
will discuss how content, social networking, SEO and SEM
all play a role in driving traffic and increasing revenue to
internet real estate properties. There will also be an insightful
discussion on new gTLDs.
Kupietzky speaking at the first
DOMAINfest Global conference in 2007.
Journal: DOMAINfest has never had a problem
attracting a big crowd. However, the conference schedule
gets more and more crowded every year. This year T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
will end up running close by in
just days before DOMAINfest. Some have speculated that
this will split the potential registrant pool for both
shows, while others think having the two events back to back
on the West Coast will make it more likely that many
(especially those from the East Coast) will be able to take
in both shows because they can do it on a single trip. Based
on your early registrations what is your take on what, if
any effect, the close proximity of two shows will have on
We are pacing ahead of last year’s record
attendance. I think the close proximity of the shows does
offer participants a geographical means of attending more
than one event. If anything, it may increase registration
and provide an incentive for more people to travel if they
can attend two shows. Of course, if people can only
attend one show in 2010, we believe DFG will provide the
best return on the investment. And it’s not just
those of you on
|the East coast that this will
benefit — DOMAINFest Global gets many international
attendees, many of whom may now consider adding TRAFFIC to
their agenda as well.
Journal: DOMAINfest has been a once-a-year event and with
each previous show it has been obvious from the size and quality of
the production that the conference staff has utilized just about
every day available to them in the preceding 12 months. Tell us a
little about what it takes in terms of manpower, time and money to
achieve what you have been able to achieve with this event each
The brainstorming and planning for the 2010 show started literally
the day after the 2009 show ended. It truly is a colossal
undertaking with a whole team that dedicates an enormous amount of
time to creating, implementing, and managing the event. We put over $1
million into the event to make sure that it offers participants
and attendees something special, memorable, and innovative.
committed to the domain industry and believe that it makes excellent
business sense to invest not only in this conference but also in new
technologies that make domains more valuable in marketing and
scene from one of the panel discussions at DOMAINfest Global
team takes all the conference feedback as a starting point to see
what has worked and what hasn’t. Then they put these learnings to
work, devising ways to make the conference even better than the
previous one. Each year, we try to raise the bar on what we offer.
Our industry has tremendous potential and we continue to support its
growth and expansion.
Journal: In closing, 2009 was a rough year for the
general economy and most sectors of the domain industry. There have
been some signs recently that the sun may be starting to peek
through the clouds again. As you prepare for your 2010 conference,
do you sense anything different in the atmosphere this year as
opposed to 12 months ago? Anything that leads you to believe that
DOMAINfest Global 2010 could be a catalyst in a broad based industry
rebound in 2010?
The conference can certainly be a catalyst in helping stimulate new
ideas and innovative practices. We believe we can create new
growth opportunities as the industry continues to evolve.
The broad-based understanding
of how to leverage domain names as a marketing strategy is
increasing as more people realize that they need domain
names to create online businesses. Overall, there are
signs that economic conditions are improving, and the value
of Internet real estate will improve and become increasingly
important to marketers and advertisers. In our
industry, I sense that people are ready for the recession to
be over and want to engage in significant conversations that
will help move their businesses forward – those
conversations will take place at DOMAINfest
Global this January.