I Don’t Like DomainFest NYC Format Change and Price

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The other day, Andrew posted an article about a change in format for Oversee’s DomainFest event in New York City. Instead of full day of networking like last year’s event, there will be a 3 hour meet up with dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan. The cost is $150 to attend.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not digging the whole $150 for dinner and drinks with Oversee in NYC. I also don’t like the change in format since last year’s event in New York was very good, with a large attendance.

In my humble opinion, fewer people are going to show up for a three hour evening event than last year’s full day event, which had a pretty sizable attendance. If you want to come to the event from out of town, you pretty much have to spend a few hundred dollars for a hotel room because it’s unlikely you’ll hit the road after drinking for a few hours. IMO, this also means fewer people, and that means there’s less of a reason for me to attend.

I’ve hosted/organized several domain “meet ups” in New York City over the last three years, and I’ve never had to charge people to attend. Most of the events were cash bar, although a couple of them were dinner events where people ordered as they wished and paid for their own food/drinks. There were also two sponsors like Domain Capital and WhyPark for two of the events (they paid for appetizers and drinks at a couple events). The events had anywhere between 15 and 50 people in attendance. The largest event was held in a private room at a bar with a cash bar and no cover or sponsors.

For the most part, even some of the cooler lounges and restaurants will give you free space if you guarantee enough of an attendance and bar/food tab, especially if it’s not during the holiday season or Thursday – Saturday evenings. There are plenty of less cool/trendy places that would be very happy to host a cash bar event at no cost.

DomainFest NYC is being held on a Tuesday evening in the summer, and if Oversee thinks over 50 people will show up, I would imagine they could assure the restaurant/bar that the tab would reach an agreed upon number, and I would hope the company could cover anything under that as a marketing or customer relationship event. Maybe it won’t be sit down dinner style, but I’ve always found it hard to talk to a large group while having a sit down dinner, and it’s also tough to balance a drink, a full plate, and manage a conversation.

I get that Oversee probably doesn’t want to have an open event that’s free because everyone and their mom will show up looking for freebies. I also get that Oversee doesn’t want to have to ask people to pay for their dinner at the end of a meal.  However, I am personally opposed to paying $150 to hang out with a NYC crowd. I’d rather organize a private dinner with 15 people in the area at a great restaurant, and I guarantee the cost with drinks would be less than $150 per person.

With all respect to my friends at Oversee who I enjoy hanging out with, it seems like the company wants us to pay them to travel to NYC to hang out and build customer relationships, and that doesn’t seem right to me.

28 COMMENTS

  1. “I think events like this should be free or cheap to attend, the bulk of expenses should be covered by the sponsors.

    $150 for a 3 hour event is ridiculous.

    Brad”

    /////////////

    Are you happy with the current situation where parking companies are spending “their clients” money on parties, food drinks for the minority? At the end of the day *we* are paying for all of this, it probably worked in 2007 but in 2011 it doesn’t make much sense to me. Cut out the waste & unnecessary expenses and increase payouts to domainers!

    At the end of the day though with this will be more of a necessity rather than a choice parking companies have if they want to compete with bare bones operations like Frank Schilling where they pay out most of the revenue and have none of the gimmicks.

  2. “Are you happy with the current situation where parking companies are spending “their clients” money on parties, food drinks for the minority? At the end of the day *we* are paying for all of this, it probably worked in 2007 but in 2011 it doesn’t make much sense to me. Cut out the waste & unnecessary expenses and increase payouts to domainers!”

    @ Snoopy

    I understand what you’re saying, but marketing is a cost of doing business for every company, and if they can’t afford to host an event like this at no or minimal cost to clients and potential clients, perhaps they should cancel it.

    Sure, my cable would be less expensive if Time Warner stopped advertising, but I would never expect them to do that, despite the fact that many buildings here in New York City have exclusive deals with the company.

  3. “At the end of the day though with this will be more of a necessity rather than a choice parking companies have if they want to compete with bare bones operations like Frank Schilling where they pay out most of the revenue and have none of the gimmicks.”

    Exactly, I know it now because I have moved to InternetTraffic.com and seeing positive traffic/revenue.

  4. “I understand what you’re saying, but marketing is a cost of doing business for every company, and if they can’t afford to host an event like this at no or minimal cost to clients and potential clients, perhaps they should cancel it.

    Sure, my cable would be less expensive if Time Warner stopped advertising, but I would never expect them to do that, despite the fact that many buildings here in New York City have exclusive deals with the company.”

    /////////////////

    Elliot,

    This isn’t a consumer focused business, everyone making even modest amounts form parking knows them.

    How many people going to those events do you think are tossing up whether to park with domainsponsor or haven’t heard of them before? People choose who they park with on the basis of revenue, not on the basis of free drinks at a bar.

  5. “@ Snoopy

    I would be happy to pay for my drinks at an open bar, but $150 for a 3 hour networking event is ridiculous, IMO.”

    /////////////////

    Elliot I agree I agree it sounds too high, but didn’t you just say you expect it to be free or minimal cost?

  6. @ Snoopy

    Yes… I’ve planned several events in NYC and they were all “free.” People paid for what they drank (except when I paid for an event out of pocket and when there were a couple of sponsors).

    By free/minimal, I meant the admission fee.

  7. We had a three hour event in LA and didn’t charge anybody – including drinks and appetizers! What is wrong with these guys? $150? NFW…

  8. I agree with you Elliot. Coming in from Long Island to mingle and eat for three hours for $150, I would have to pass. I would spend 4 hours in commuting time alone. I understand there should be some charge to ensure commitment. A totally free event may draw the wrong people.

  9. @ Tony

    We should get a group together for lunch in Brooklyn or Manhattan again soon. Will email you, Steve, Tony, and Larry tomorrow to put something on the schedule before I go on vacation in a couple weeks.

  10. Lunch is good for me, I say Greenwich Village. (www.GreenwichVillage.com) 🙂

    In regards to a 3 hour get together for $150, Elliot you right we should just get together for dinner and drinks and that would be cheaper than DomainFest.

    Also spoke to Brian Benko and says we are way overdue for a NY get together. Lets put something together.

  11. I thought the NYC DomainFest full day & eve gig was good last August…plus people can build their own private get-togethers around it the night before too.

    Since Oversee is already paying the travel expenses for their employees & execs to be there… It makes more sense to again have the full day & night event again…

    The $175 ticket seemed fair & appropriate for the full day gig in August 2011 and something similar in 2012 would too IMHO.

  12. I loved last year’s event and was also disappointed to see the change. A full day of seminars and networking, plus an auction, was completely worth the registration fee. A three-hour dinner doesn’t sound like it’s worth it. I learned a lot at last year’s event and was looking forward to it again.

    I guess they decided to cut some corners.

  13. Eliot, your NYC meet ups are always great and don’t cost an arm and a leg! They offer people the chance to know other locals in a casual environment. The one you did last year at Campbell Apartments was terrific!! Please keep me up to date on your next meet up.

  14. Hi El,

    Your points are well taken, but the argument that restaurants and bars will give out free or “discounted” food on the promise you will meet a certain attendee amount is not true in the sense of the following expectations IF the meeting was free:

    1) You won’t get a great dinner if the event is free. You’ll get finger food

    2) You won’t get free alcohol

    If Oversee was offering a great dinner and an open bar for $150, then that is a respectable price for this type of exclusive meeting. I would charge that much for anyone to meet up with me for domain monetization advice and discussion and networking, no matter where I was.

    I understand your point of questioning regarding this additional price, and maybe the way it was presented wasn’t done properly, but in reality, those who want a top notch dinner with an open bar at $150 is peanuts when you consider the people in that group will most likely be people you will collect contact info from.

  15. @ Stephen

    I didn’t say they will give free or discounted food.

    They will give you the space to host your event if you can commit to spending a specific amount of money on food/drinks.

    For instance, I was able to reserve a private area of a bar because I promised my group would spend at least $500 (maybe $700) on drinks. If we didn’t spend that much, I would have had to pay the difference, but we ended up spending more.

    Also, you are a consultant and your time is worth $$$. If anything, Oversee is trying to get people to sign up for their services, and I think this is more of a marketing event for the company. Further, I can’t imagine it being a “top notch dinner” at this rooftop bar/lounge. Maybe we differ in opinion, but I consider a top notch dinner a sit down dinner at a place like Il Mulino, Daniel, or Bouley.

    BTW, several NY guys got together yesterday for lunch at Lombardi’s and all in, the cost was $17/each. I can tell you that I will be organizing a larger event some time when I get back in August (probably mid-August) and it will be free to attend and network with professionals.

  16. Actually now —–>

    Eventhough the DFest Website still says there are 2 tabletop exhibit sponsor slots…. the latest marketing/promo E-mail says there are “5 Sponsorship slots” of which 4 are tabletop and one is “Lanyard”

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