The TRAFFIC conference was held in Las Vegas last week, and I want to let you know some of my thoughts about it as well as my thoughts on attending a TRAFFIC conference in general. I already shared some thoughts on holding the conference in Las Vegas, so I’ll stick primarily to the actual conference rather than the venue.
For starters, I’ll illustrate how important it was for me to attend TRAFFIC. This was the first time in over a year that I went away for an extended period of time without my wife and daughter. As much as I knew I would miss them, I realized how important it would be to see business associates and friends, and I am very happy to have made the trip. We’re at an interesting time in the history of domain investing, and I didn’t want to miss this TRAFFIC conference. By the time of TRAFFIC in October, the new gTLDs may have already started to shake things up.
Here are some thoughts about the conference and why I am able to get my money from it every time (no, Rick and Howard do not give me a free or special discounted ticket).
Turnout at the conference was larger than I expected. Knowing there would be a TRAFFIC in the Fall, I was expecting 100-15o attendees, but there were around 250 people in attendance. I found it to be a good mix of companies with whom I do business and independent domain investors. There were a number of conference “regulars” who didn’t make it due to other commitments, which was a bit disappointing, but everything else was excellent.
Many of the larger domain investor-facing companies sent representatives to TRAFFIC. The people who attended are there to work on deals and connect with their clients. These are the people who can get things done, and if/when I have issues, I like to privately discuss them. I have found that having a personal conversation about an issue is far more effective than blasting a company in a public blog post or in a forum, and the response is usually quicker than email.
Getting to meet these decision makers is a big reason to attend because you never know when you’ll need some help. Even if you have no pending issues, you can get a great contact for future issues. Mention the TRAFFIC meeting to jog their memory, and you’ll probably have your issue addressed more quickly. A reader or two have commented that I get preferential treatment because of my blog. I think it’s more likely because I know who to contact when I need something, and I’d rather spend time trying to get the issue resolved by the right person rather than bitch and moan about it. In fact, I met a few guys from Go Daddy right after Water Night, and they let me know if I need to get an issue resolved, I can get in touch.
Representatives from several companies in attendance were excited to discuss new products or features they are preparing to launch. From what I learned, I think a few things I’ve been requesting or hoping to see are coming very soon. I was able to offer additional feedback, and I am hopeful that will help my business. I was particularly happy to meet with the team from Internet Traffic and NameJet. I am happy with what they offer, and I shared some feedback about improvements.
Although I missed Braden Pollock’s discussion with Jason Hennessey of Everspark Interactive, I bumped into them in Cafe Bellagio shortly after, and we had a long discussion about search engine optimization and some ways I can grow my business. I was impressed with Jason’s knowledge and will be working with him on a couple of my websites in the future. Had that connection not been made at TRAFFIC, it’s unlikely our paths would have crossed elsewhere.
Meeting with domain brokers was on my list of things to do, and I was able to meet with several. I had discussions with Domain Holdings brokers, got the chance to spend some time with Omar Kubba from Aftermarket.com, had a dinner with Dave Evanson from Sedo, met with the Igloo brokerage team, and chatted with Bob Mountain from NameMedia. I don’t know if these discussions will lead to new deals, but it gave me some insight into what these domain brokers are selling.
Despite the Las Vegas heat, I had a fun time at Water Night, which benefitted the Water School. The outdoor bar was packed with conference attendees, and it was a relaxing atmosphere. I am glad TRAFFIC and Water Night organizers were able to work things out, and I understand TRAFFIC organizers made a large contribution to the Water School on behalf of attendees.
One thing that was discussed many times in public and private discussions was the new gTLDs that will be coming out soon. Whether people are bullish on them or think they will only cause confusion, it’s clear that almost everyone thinks these TLDs are going to change the business of investing in domain names as we know it. I agree, and I will adapt my business as necessary. After the TRAFFIC conference, I have a better idea of where people stand with respect to gTLD domain names.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Bill Sweetman’s departure from Tucows and his new domain consulting firm, Name Ninja. I had the chance to meet with Bill, which I think will be helpful to both of our businesses.
One of my favorite things about the conference is bumping into people I’ve known for years that I don’t see very often. It’s nice to catch up in person to see how they’re doing personally and what they are seeing in the business. I don’t interact with some of these people at all during the year, but I appreciate having the opportunity to “talk shop” during the conference. There are too many of these people to name individually, but this is my favorite aspect of the show, and many of the things I learn during these informal meetings help guide my business.
Each time I leave a TRAFFIC conference, I am more excited about investing in domain names, and I come back with more ideas about how to grow my business. This conference was no exception, and I already have my ticket to attend the October conference in Ft. Lauderdale (which you can buy now for $995).