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Quality Trumps Quantity: Lessons Learned from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2014  

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013: A Pictorial Review of the Big Show at the Bellagio - See more at: http://www.dnjournal.com/cover/2013/may.htm#sthash.BXu4j45T.dpuf

By Ron Jackson

With domain conference activity typically running from early morning until past midnight almost every day of a show, I am normally limited to posting a few photos and highlights in our Lowdown section each day while the conference is underway. Once I am back home I then  put together a wire to wire review article covering everything that happened in greater detail.

Thanks to the change in time zones for the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West conference that concluded May 31 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, I was able to cover the show more thoroughly than usual in our daily reports from the event. I found myself waking up at 5am every morning (which is 8am in my home time zone

in Florida). That gave me ample time to put together detailed daily posts, illustrated with a wide array of photos, for you while everyone else was either asleep or (in a few cases) still out on the town!

You can read those daily recaps at these links:

Pre-Show Photos & Highlights from T.R.A.F.F.I.C West in Las Vegas

Day 1 Photos & Highlights from the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Conference in Las Vegas

Day 2 Photos & Highlights from the 2014 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West Conference in Las Vegas

Curtain Comes Down on T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2014: Photos & Highlights from the Last Two Days in Las Vegas

While I was able to cover all of the event bases, at least lightly, in those posts, the high volume of sessions and social activities did not leave enough time to comment a lot on a couple of  key sessions or to tell you about one of the brightest highlights for me - meeting so many interesting people for the first time. So, those are the points I will focus on in this final look back at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2014.

Neil Sackmary - GetItFido.com

It is very rare for me to attend a conference where I don't meet at least one person that makes the entire trip worth the time and expense to go. At T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West I met many times more that fit that description (and you never know when others you touched base with for the first time, however briefly, will end up being people that you later develop invaluable relationships with). That underscores how important and irreplaceable face to face contact is, even though we are in a business that is based on products and services that exist only in the virtual world. 

I'll start with T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s new lead sponsor, Neil Sackmary of GetItFido.com. Neil was on stage for a couple of presentations during the conference in which he detailed the domain monetization platform he developed for his own company and is now opening to other domain investors. Sackmary's tools incorporate PPC, directing ad sales, sub-domain sales, automated storefronts, eBay tools, traffic splitting and other features. Those were interesting but the things I really took to heart came in one to one conversations where he talked about what has made him a successful entrepreneur (he runs both online and brick & mortar jewelry and coin businesses that are very profitable.) 

Neil pays attention to the little things. He noticed people walking up to the door at neighboring businesses at opening time only to be greeted by a locked door as owners routinely showed up late (or occasionally not all). His shop always opens on time and he does everything he can to match his reliability with a price that keeps people coming back. Sackmary works hard and with a passion - something he also has for his friends in the Las Vegas based rock band Otherwise (their albums are available on the seminal rock label Century Media), who Neil arranged to have play live at the official T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Party. I've always believed you need to be passionate about what you do as that passion shines through to others and, more importantly, gives you the greatest luxury in life - working at something you really love to do. Neil has that and it was good to be reminded of how important an asset that is.

Meeting and spending a good bit of time talking with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. keynote speaker Howard Lefkowitz was also a huge positive for me. The brilliant serial entrepreneur has done just about everything and met just about everybody in the business world (as I told him, he really should write a book or two, or three - I would buy them all.)

In addition  to being the former President & CEO of Vegas.com, Howard has worked personally with people like Ted Turner and leaders of giant corporations like Costco. He has a rich background in all forms of media including network TV and the Internet so, as you would expect, his keynote covered a lot of ground and gave the audience a lot to  think about with respect to how domains fit into the new media world. His insight was truly worth the price of admission. 

Among the many topics Lefkowitz commented on I 

Howard Lekowitz

thought one of the most interesting was his belief that industry giant Google is vulnerable and could fall to a more nimble competitor. Google is so strong the notion sounds preposterous but Lefkowitz pointed out the long trail of bodies left when previous Internet giants lost their way and their lunch along the way - remember how important Excite, Alta Vista and Lycos used to be? All taken down by a new wave of search engines, Google, Yahoo! and Bing (with Google now dominating that trio and making life somewhat miserable for domain investors with their virtual monopoly over PPC payouts). 

Lefkowitz, who has been right about many things over the years, thinks Google's run could well run out, calling them "a one-trick pony - search" - with everything else they do just bolted on. He predicted that as soon as the end of next year a new disruptive search entrant could make life miserable for Google - leaving some wondering if he might be involved in 

such a newcomer himself (something he declined to comment on). Leftkowitz noted that industry behemoths often make the mistake of believing their own press and added that no innovation came from big companies. 

Lefkowitz also commented on new gTLDs which, as you would expect, were widely discussed at the conference. He thinks some of them have potential - and, not surprisingly, he likes .Vegas. However, Lekowitz also said ".Com is not going away. It took years for people to go to new TV channels (when cable came in) and it will take years for new gTLDs as well...some will rise to the top and some won't."

Speaking of .Vegas, I got a familiar warm  feeling when meeting the new registry's President & CEO Jim Trevino. I say familiar because it is a little hard to describe, but it reminded me of the feeling I had when I met Michael & David Castello for the first time back in 2006 - a feeling that we would be friends for a long time even though we had just met. 8 years later we remain friends and I expect we always will be -  and it has nothing to do with business - we have never done any business together - it is just a great personal relationship based on a lot of common interests and beliefs that become apparent before you have even talked about them to any great degree. 

Jim and I only chatted for a few minutes and through an email exchange after the show, but we plan to get together along with our wives when I am back in Las Vegas next January for Namescon and I am looking forward to getting to know this fascinating entrepreneur better. 

This is the special thing about our

Ron Jackson & Jim Trevino (.Vegas)

business and about conferences - so many great relationships, both business and personal - that stand the test of time come out of these invaluable opportunities to meet face to face. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West delivered those opportunities in spades even though the overall attendance was low by T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s standards. Though it was not the case when the Bellagio was originally booked, a new show and a schedule change wound up making T.R.A.F.F.I.C. the third consecutive conference to be held in the same region over a span of just five months (following NamesCon in January and Domainfest in late March-early April). While that impacted attendance it did not affect the quality of the attendees, sending many home with the feeling that it was one of their most productive shows to date. It reminds of the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference at Disney World in Orlando that people still talk about as one of their favorites even though the attendance at that event was well below the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. average.  

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2014 had the same kind of positive vibe, made even more so after meeting people like .CLUB's personable Chairman and CEO Colin Campbell, Luis Petzhold who hails from Portugal, my long time firend Ilze Kaulins-Plaskacz's son Gerrit Plaskacz who is just entering the business, Neil Resnick from MediaOptions.com and his wife Laura, DomainNameSales.com broker Mohammed Khan, Francine & Tom Feisel from iDomain.com in Houston and many others (believe me, i could go on and on). 

Tom & Francine Feisel of iDomain.com at their first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference

Years ago all of the old friends I enjoyed seeing in Las Vegas again were people I was meeting for the first time at another show (some of those going all the way back to the first conference of them all - T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 2004 - where I first met T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz &  Howard Neu, Howard's wife Barbara and Roy Messer (all of whom were also at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2014). I can't imagine not having all of the great domain people I've met along the way in my life now.

If you want to start building some new relationships of your own - relationships that can both advance your business and enrich your personal life - the perfect opportunity is just four months away. T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s 10th anniversary show is coming up October 30-November 2, 2014 at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach, a landmark event that is expected to have both quantity and quality. That's as good a win-win situation as you will ever find and I hope I will have an opportunity to meet you there!

*****


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