Conferences & Tradeshows

DomainFest Auction Wasn’t All Bad

I think we can all agree that the Moniker live auction at DomainFest was pretty much a bomb, but I don’t really think this is a bad thing for the industry. There weren’t many bargains in the live auction, which shows that domain owners aren’t necessarily losing faith in their investments and selling their domain names for whatever the market will yield as a consequence.   This shows that there is strength in domain assets, especially those that are of high value.

For the most part, it seemed that the high priced domain names that were listed were priced far too high for other domain investors to purchase.   Sure, they may be worth the amount to someone with a solid business plan, but most domain investors don’t have business plans for names they plan to buy.   Many have them for names they own, but it can be fruitless to build a business plan around a name that isn’t owned by us.   This coupled with just a short amount of time between the final list publication and the auction, it’s not very likely that a plan can even be built.

Also, many of the names up for sale at auction have either been listed at other auction(s) recently or had been privately marketed recently.   There were a couple of names I made private offers on in the last couple of months, and I decided against bidding on both (even though my offers would have equaled or superseded the reserve).   Personally, I don’t like to buy at public auction, and I’ve only done so once.   With a market in flux, I didn’t want to be the price setter – especially in a public auction.

So how can live auctions be improved?   Mike and his readers have some good suggestions. I’ve also made a few additional suggestions in the past, mostly related to end user education.   I still think it would be wise for a domain ambassador to attend a non-domain tradeshow and run small group sessions discussing the importance of generic domain names.   Every single industry has tradeshows, and most tradeshows have opportunities for educational seminars.   Why hasn’t any company made in-roads with end users yet (with the exception of when an end user already knows that he wants to buy a particular domain name)?

Over the past several years, it always seemed that live domain auctions would yield seven figures no matter what.   Well, this isn’t really a reality any more.   Domain owners are more picky about what they buy in this tight market, and without domain owners continuing to be speculators, it is much more difficult to produce eye popping auction results with domain investors being the primary target audience.

Times are changing, but I don’t think this is a bad thing for our maturing industry.

You Need to Attend a Domain Conference

For those of you who are involved in the domain industry as an investor, developer, or other service provider, I again strongly urge you to attend a domain conference.   The one complaint I heard and have to a agree with is that there are so many good shows now, it’s difficult and expensive to attend them all.   Well, with shows being held across the United States and the world, I suggest you pick at least one close to you and do your best to attend.

Here is a list of some upcoming shows:

Domainer Mardi Gras – February 19-21 in New Orleans, LA

GeoDomain Expo – April 24-25 in San Diego, CA

Traffic – Silicon Valley – April 27-30 in Silicon Valley, CA

Traffic – Amsterdam – June 1-4 in Amsterdam

Domain Roundtable – June 14-17 in Washington, DC

Traffic – New York – October 26-29 in New York, NY

I am still undecided about which shows will attend.   As I did last summer, I have several weddings to attend this spring and summer as well in Michigan, Massachusetts, New York and California.   I am fairly certain I will attend Traffic NY because it’s practically in my backyard (if Brooklyn was my backyard).   I also really want to attend my first Domain Roundtable, especially because it’s on the east coast.   Of course I want to visit Amsterdam and I should really attend the GeoDomain Expo. Clearly I am still up in the air and need to figure some of this out!

Here are a couple of money savings tips if you want to attend the show and save some cash:

1) If you book a flight with JetBlue (not sure about other airlines), keep checking on the price of your flight after booking.   In the past, 90% of airfare prices increased.   These days, they are decreasing as it gets closer to the day of departure.   JetBlue will give you credit for the difference between your booking price and the lower price if it goes down.   Just keep monitoring the price and call if you see it go lower.

2) Check with your service providers to see if they offer customer discounts.   Chances are good that you would have received an offer if they do have discounts, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.   I don’t make enough PPC money or have enough domain names in my portfolio to qualify for any company discounts, but perhaps your service providers can hook you up.

3) Share a room with someone you know in the industry.   Ask friends on the domain forums and maybe you’ll find someone who will be willing to share a room.   Most of the time is spent socializing and you won’t be in your room much anyway. I wouldn’t directly ask someone to share a room though because it could put them in an awkward position if they don’t feel comfortable with it.

4) Stay in a hotel close to the conference but not at the conference.   Again, you are going to spend little time in the hotel anyway.

5) Share rides to/from the airport and don’t rent a car.   Frequently the valet parking or parking garage at a conference hotel is sky high.

DomainFest was Best

I returned to New York last night after spending a week in California visiting Burbank and attending DomainFest Global.   It always seems that each domain conference is better than the previous conference I attended.   This can certainly be said about DFG. Aside from the panels (which were good), the networking opportunities were phenomenal – both during conference time set up for networking and during the parties in the evening. Believe it or not, I even had several great discussions at the Playboy Mansion (all involving domains and development… get your mind out of the gutter, friends!)

I don’t typically attend all of the panels, but the few I attended had good information and dialogue. Typically at domain conferences, I maximize my time meeting colleagues, introducing friends, and learning about what others are doing to increase the value of their domain names and generate revenue from them. The atmosphere and layout at DFG was great for individual meetings and discussions involving several people. There were a few times in the exhibition area where people from different backgrounds had great conversations just by happenstance because we were sitting on adjacent couches.

Some people who didn’t attend are going to look at the results of the domain auction and possibly consider it a low point for domain owners.   I disagree with this view for a couple of reasons.   Even in tough times, close to a million dollars in domain names were purchased.   Sellers don’t have the need to drop their prices and give away their names.   This shows some strength, as weakness would be indicated by great domain names being listed at very low reserves, as domain owners need to sell ASAP. This just isn’t the case, and owners of good domain names aren’t looking to sell them in a down market.

This was the best domain conference I have attended so far, and it is a tribute to the hard work of everyone at who oversaw a great show.   Even in difficult times, amid lowering revenues and layoffs, the team at Oversee pulled through and gave us a great conference.

Planning for DomainFest Global

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogIt’s time to start making plans to attend DomainFest in Hollywood January 27-30th at the Renaissance Hotel. Last year’s conference was one of the top industry conferences I attended, and I had to miss the first day. This is a great opportunity to network, and the price is only $895 until the end of December.
You do have some time, but I am recommending that you order your flight tickets (or at least price them out and follow) ASAP. I’ve heard prices may actually go down as a result of the dropping price of oil, but I wouldn’t be so sure of that.The Renaissance Hotel is offering discounts for conference attendees, so start your hotel search by calling them.
As you might imagine, I am taking a direct flight in to Burbank Airport on Jet Blue from New York’s JFK.   According to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Burbank Airport was the second least expensive airport in the country in Q2 of 2008.   I paid under $325 round trip… not so bad.   I will also spend a few days in Burbank visiting some businesses.
With the economy in the shitter, this is a good year to attend DomainFest to network with others and see how the leaders are weathering this storm.

Domain Convergence, Great Learning Opportunity

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogThere are just a few days remaining to register for Domain Convergence, an intimate gathering of domain investors and developers just over the border in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada from October 6-8. The conference is going to provide a relaxed environment with great networking opportunities and information you can use to grow your domain-related business. This is a small conference, and the size will allow for some great discussion.
In addition, there will be a live auction hosted by Fusu. To help save you some money, the conference organizers are offering my blog readers a $100 savings simply by entering “elliotsblog” on the registration page.   I would be attending the conference if not for three prior commitments during that week that I am unable to reschedule.
The published conference agenda is below:
Oct 6, 2008
12:00 pm       Registration opens
3:30 pm       Founding Meeting of the Canadian Domain Owner’s Association
5:30 pm       Wine Tasting & Winery Dinner in Niagara on the Lake
Oct 7, 2008
9:00 am       Breakfast
10:00 am       Domain Name Monetization Options
11:30 am       Developing Domains, personal Experiences
1:00 pm       Lunch
2:30 pm       Domain Name Law
4:00 pm       Workshop: Develop this Name!
6:00 pm       Dinner
Oct 8, 2008
9:00 am       Breakfast
10:00 am       Understand your traffic
11:00 am       Don’t send your visitors away: Capturing visitor information
12:00 pm       Lunch
1:30 pm       Mass Development: Developing Domains on a large scale
2:30 pm       The best tools to develop your domains
4:00 pm       Fusu Domain Live Auction
5:00 pm       Closing remarks

Thoughts on the Auctions – Strength in Tough Times

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogWhile the financial markets are in the midst of turmoil, and much of this country is facing difficult times, I think the results of the opening day Moniker auction, Rick Latona’s auction and’s auction show the strength of the domain industry.   I don’t think the final tally for each auction was remarkable, but I think the auctions were very solid in such tough times.
There were some strong names offered for sale, and the reserve prices were mostly reasonable, allowing the market to set the sales prices. With several hundred bidders watching either online or in attendance, there were plenty of people looking to find good domain deals. A large majority of the names that were offered were sold, showing that if you price your name well, the market will deliver a fair price. Selling to end users might be more lucrative, but at the moment, end users might not necessarily have the cash.
This afternoon, Moniker is hosting their premier auction event. After spending quite a bit of time studying the auction list, I believe Moniker is poised to have a stellar day given tough outside market conditions. There are a considerable amount of names on the list that have great reserves (low or none at all), and these names are going to be sold for a fair price. I don’t think we will see huge numbers like the $10 million auction last year, but that’s completely expected given the current market conditions.   My prediction is that they break the $2.5 million dollar mark, which would be indicitive of a solid market – not necessarily strong, but solid.

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