I received an email from Rick Schwartz this morning with the subject, “BIG News from T.R.A.F.F.I.C.” and I immediately read the email. Rick and Howard are expecting a big show in Florida in October (I am not surprised about this), and they are already discussing the format of TRAFFIC in 2011.
According to Rick’s email.
“In 2011, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is strongly considering the possibility of having a “Non Sponsored” event. That means NO SPONSORS! Domainers only. The purpose is to keep the advertising and commercial part out and the ideas in.”
First off, I dig the idea of the more relaxed conference. I’ve hosted a few get togethers in New York, and because the crowd is made up of from anywhere between 15-35 people, it’s very relaxed and cordial. We haven’t had many sponsors for the events and that is usually intentional.
I think there will be a few big issues with doing a non sponsored event and I hope it doesn’t happen.
Most companies will still send representatives to meet with clients who attend the show. Right there, the idea of a non-commercial event is kind of thrown out the window. Even if Rick and Howard would try to limit the event to domainers and exclude larger companies, that would prove to be a difficult challenge in and of itself since many domain investors have become providers of some sort.
If sponsors are let in without booths and/or event sponsorships, it’s still going to be commercial, except sponsorship revenue won’t be there. This brings me to my next point. TRAFFIC is already known as the most expensive domain conference. The current rate for South Beach is $1,295, which is double what DomainFest costs (Howard corrected this in the comments). Without sponsors to defray some of the costs, I can only imagine the price increasing. Nearly every company is either facing cutbacks or not spending more, and a price increase or a smaller conference would probably keep attendance very low, which in turn would dissuade fence sitters from attending.
One of the reasons I think DomainFest has been so successful is that domain investors want to meet with their account representatives face to face at least once a year. Oversee has very long tentacles when it comes to the domain space, and they have thousands of clients in their lines of business. Having a personal relationship with certain account representatives is very important in a business like this, and attending DomainFest is that opportunity to meet with account reps in addition to other domain investors. Without the commercial sponsorships, it’s one less reason to attend.
I realize that many people who have been in this business for a while remember DeanFest (the first real conference), and most would relish the opportunity to relive that experience. Unfortunately, this business has grown so much over the years that reclaiming the old days is as likely as going to a college reunion hoping to relive the college experience of staying out drinking until 4am. Unless you happen to be Gregg McNair, you probably won’t be doing that and will wake up the next morning with a massive hangover.
Times have changed. Domain investing has become a larger industry in and of itself. New people have entered the space, and it’s not as collegial as it once was. The growth of domain investing has made a lot of people very wealthy, and there are plenty of negatives that come along with this. I don’t think having an unsponsored TRAFFIC event will draw a big crowd, and I think it could hurt the TRAFFIC brand.