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The 10 Most Memorable Moments in T.R.A.F.F.I.C. History & The 10 Best Reasons to Attend the 10th Anniversary Show on Miami Beach  

By Ron Jackson

It's hard to imagine what this business would look like today if the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference had not brought the industry's major players face to face for the first time back in October of 2004 when the pioneering show debuted at Florida's Delray Beach Marriott. Since then countless new business relationships, major domain sales and personal friendships have been forged at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences held around the world.

Now, hard as it is to believe that a decade has already passed, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and

 

Howard Neu will be bringing their baby back home to South Florida for a big 10th anniversary extravaganza at the historic Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami's world famous South Beach October 30 - November 2, with pre-show cabana networking October 29 & 30

The upcoming event will represent more than just a decade in business, it will also mark Schwartz's last hurrah as co-producer of an event that has literally changed many people's lives. Schwartz has decided to return to "civilian" life after this show, leaving Neu to captain the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ship going forward. Schwartz will get a special going away present during the conference when he will be "grilled" by friends at a Rick Schwartz Roast that will highlight the October 31 lunch hour.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founders Rick Schwartz and Howard 
Neu
at the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference at Florida's 
Delray Beach Marriott Hotel in October 2004.

So much has happened at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. over the past decade it is hard to grasp how important and influential the show has been without looking at the whole picture from a high altitude - and that would be from the summit Schwartz and Neu have ascended to after a 10-year climb through both scintillating peaks and challenging valleys. To get a condensed view of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. decade from their perspective I asked Rick and Howard to each give me a list of their top 10 highlights from the past 10 years. Then, for a different view, I'll give you my list as well. 

When we are through looking back, we'll then do what we like to do best - look forward with their top 10 reasons to attend the 10th anniversary show. Since this will likely be the last time we will hear from Mr. Schwartz in a T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 

Preview article, we will have him tee it off with his 10 most memorable T.R.A.F.F.I.C. moments.

Rick Schwartz:

1. The First Cocktail Party at the Delray Beach Marriott. The party that launched an industry!

2. Seeing Steve Forbes on Stage addressing our industry at the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference at the Hollywood, Florida Diplomat Hotel.

3. Seeing the booths set up in the first Delray show.

4. Taking pictures of all the 2004 attendees as they registered. I still have them on my phone right now. I have the famous picture of a very skeptical Ron Jackson registering for the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. with his garmet bag slung over his shoulder and a picture of Mike Berkens - both 10 years younger and Berkens with more hair! 

5. The first New York City show and auction in 2007 where we sold $12.5 million in domains in just 3 hours. And speaking of pictures, how about that picture of Monte Cahn at the Auction Podium that has symbolized domain auctions in general for many years.

Auctioneer Joel Langbaum (left) and Moniker CEO Moniker Cahn overseeing the action 
at the historic $12 million T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York Live Domain Auction in 2007.

6. Getting to know each of our guest speakers.

7. Schwartz vs Schilling (at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2013) and watching domainers like Jeff Reynolds and Warren Royal among many others that took domains like AmericanFlags.com and Bobbleheads.com and not only making them full fledged businesses but coming in and disrupting an industry neither of them knew anything about and then becoming the leader in that space. 

8. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Party at the Googleplex during the first Silicon Valley show in 2006. 

9. Introduction of Cabana Networking at the Lowes Hotel in Miami Beach at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2010.

10. When folks come over to me after attending their first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and telling me the show changed their life and when I get an email after EVERY show from Alan Hack thanking us for helping move his business forward.


Next up to the plate - Rick's fellow T.RA.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder, Howard Neu, lists his 10 most memorable T.R.A.F.F.I.C. moments:

Howard Neu:

1. Making so many new friends around the world.

2. The Opening Cocktail party at the very first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. at the Delray Beach Marriott.

3. The Ghost Bar Party at the top of the Palm Hotel in Las Vegas put on by DomainSponsor during the 2006 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West show.

4. Meeting an Schmoozing with Steve Forbes in Hollywood, Florida during T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2007.

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder Howard Neu, Steve Forbes, Richard Meyer and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
Co-Founder Rick Schwartz at the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.FI.C. East 2007 show in Hollywood, Florida.

5. The amazing bus trip and party at Google in Santa Clara during T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2006.

6. Great fun in listening to and meeting Barbara Corcoran in at the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York show in Brooklyn.

7. The great turn out for the 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Amsterdam show in Holland.

8. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under - the Gold Coast, Australia show run by Dan Warner and the folks at Fabulous.com

9. Seeing 700 attendees at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas for the 2007 T.R.A.F.FI.C. West show.

10. Making Magic at the Walt Disney World Grand Floridian Convention Center during T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2008 in Orlando.

Howard added, "This was a hard selection and I had to leave out a number of other highlights, like the great excitement generated for the annual T.R.A.F.F.I.C. AWARDS, the party that Ammar Kubba threw in New York at the Tropicana, the day that Rick told off Madison Avenue about Hotels.com, the successes of cabana networking, the Las Vegas Exotic Car Road Rally, the time at one of the 2007 shows where it dawned on me that I should be investing in domain names and the creation of the Domain Industry at our first show and acceptance by the industry of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. as the Gold Standard in Domain Conferences.


As you would expect, there was some overlap as well as some differences in the lists compiled by Rick & Howard. That is true of my list as well. Here are my 10 most memorable T.R.A.F.F.I.C. moments and reasons they stood out for me.

Ron Jackson:

1. The opening night cocktail party at the first ever T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference at Delray Beach in 2004. The was so much electricity in the air it is almost impossible to describe. For the first time, people I had only known from forum posts or hearsay were there in person and, more importantly, it was obvious that it was a very special group of entrepreneurs - brilliant, friendly people who were not only willing, but thrilled to share what they knew with each other. They were more than I ever could have hoped for them to be and I knew something big had to come out of it - and, as we all know now -  it did - an industry was born that  night.

2. Walking into the ballroom at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas for the start of the 2007 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West conference and stunned to see the room packed with well over 600 people. My jaw literally dropped. Where the first show in 2004 with about 125 attendees showed me there was a small but great fraternity/sorority of people who really understood and loved domains, that moment in Las Vegas showed me we were not in Kansas anymore - the world was catching on and things were changing fast

Record crowd at the 2007 T.RA.F.F.I.C. West conference in Las Vegas

3. When I say T.R.A.F.F.I.C. West 2007 showed the world was catching on to domains - I meant that literally - the world - not just the U.S. That was shown in my next three picks starting with T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Down Under held on Australia's Gold Coast near Brisbane in November 2008. Dan Warner and his team at Fabulous.com staged the show under license from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and did a phenomenal job in a stunningly beautiful location.

4. Halfway around the world the June 2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. ccTLDs show in Amsterdam, Holland was another winner, also underscoring that domains were a growing business all around the world. This show gave me a chance to meet many online friends from the other side of the pond in person for the first time.

5. Another memorable internationals show was The June 2010 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Vancouver conference in Canada - home to some of the most successful domainers of all time. Again, the location was stunning and the company could not have been better. 

6. Next on my hit list is T.RA.F.F.I.C. New York 2007, T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s unforgettable debut in Manhattan where the live auction produced over $12 million in domain sales - a one day record that still stands! Another great memory from that week was the three-day pre-show outing that Sedo hosted at the gorgeous Mohonk Mountain Resort - busing guests the 90 miles  to and from the Big Apple for a fabulous retreat before the conference even started! 

7. Another early T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show that was especially meaningful for me was the January 2006 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Silicon Valley event in Santa Clara. While a trip to Google headquarters was a memorable part of that show the key event for me was taking on so many new advertisers it turned DNJournal.com into my primary venture, unexpectedly eclipsing my original reason for being here - investing in domains. 

8. The May 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Orlando show at Walt Disney world also has great memories for me. It wasn't as heavily attended as previous T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows because many thought Disney World was destination for kids, but everyone has a complete blast - including one night when the park was open late just for us after the general public left. Also especially memorable because it was the only T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show that my daughter (then in college, and later in medical school) was able to attend with my wife and I. She loved it too (and enjoyed hanging out one evening with Rob  Grant's two daughters, Caroline and Lizzy (Lizzy of course is  now known as international recording star Lana Del Ray.

Rob Grant, Rick Schwartz and Divyank Turakhia at the 2008 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 
c
onference at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

9. Wow - coming up on 10 choices already - this is getting tough because there are so many memorable moments. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2007 in Hollywood, Florida has to go on the list because how many times do you get sit at the head table and have dinner with a former U.S. Presidential candidate and international business icon like Steve Forbes who was that show's keynote speaker? He was great company too, smart and much funnier than you would have guessed from his TV appearances during the campaign.

10. I could put a dozen more on here but since I have to wrap it up I'll go with the September 2008 show in New York that had enough hit speaker, Barbara Corcoran - before she became a TV Star on ABC-TV's Shark Tank. Love her on the show and loved her in person - smart, funny and extremely personable. At the time few of us knew he she was, but she immediately won everyone over and the next summer Shark Tank hit the air, showing the rest of America what we has seen almost a year before.


While memories are great a lot of people will ask, "That's wonderful, but what can you do for me today?" That's why I asked Rick and Howard to give me another top 10 list - this time with their top 10 reasons you should be at the 10th anniversary show at the end of this month on Miami Beach. Since Rick batted lead off last time, we'll have Howard go first on this one.

Top 10 Reasons to Attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'S 10th Anniversary Show

Howard Neu:

1.  NETWORKING

2.  Opportunity of attendees to do a lot of business.

3.  NETWORKING

4.  Opportunity of attendees to make a lot of money.

5.  NETWORKING

Networking at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has produced profitable new business relationships 
as well as personal friendships (this shot is from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2013 in Florida).

6.  The Halloween Masquerade Ball, the Rick Schwartz Roast and the 10th Annual Awards Ceremony and Hall of Fame Inductions.

7.  The interesting, entertaining and informative seminar sessions.

8.  The great food and ambience of the Fontainebleau.

9.  The most beautiful cabanas I have seen conducive to networking.

10.  Miami Beach nightlife and the world famous Liv Nightclub and Fontainebleau Hotel and Resort.


You might think the keys on Howard's computer were sticking, but attendees have let it be known that networking is important enough to be listed three times. :-)  That fact is not lost on Rick Schwartz either and he dove into that a little deeper at the top of his list

Top 10 Reasons to Attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'S 10th Anniversary Show

Rick Schwartz:

1. The #1 reason to come to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is because you want to take advantage of a unique group of like minded people that have the ability to help grow whatever business they are doing as well as an abundant amount of opportunity for anyone looking to consolidate, expand or focus their business. "Qualified Networking" with a high bar to participate may be a good way to describe it.   

2. Because while we may be getting a little "Domain weary", the rest of the universe is starting to pay attention to domains for the very first time.  

3. Because we tell it like it is regardless of the fallout or who our friends are. We give sponsors a platform, but they have to do the persuading.  

The fiery Rick Schwartz vs. Frank Schilling debate at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East 2013.

4. Because we have a formula that works and while the bar is high, so are the rewards.  

5. Because we have demonstrated for a decade that we deliver a solid product each and every show and attendees walk away happy that their time was well spent and they accomplished a lot.  

6. Because you can get more accomplished in a few days than you will in the next few months or a year.  

7. Because you earned it and this is how you recharge your batteries. Being around like minded people and sharing war stories is a key to the success of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  It is a formula that works.  

8. Because you know how to seize opportunity when you see it.  And most of us are running so hard every day that we miss opportunity. At T.R.A.F.F.I.C., I have been saying since the get go that we slow things down and when you break bread with new and old friends it comes with a priceless dividend.  

9. The coolest thing.....Reading DN Journal chronicling each and every show since 2004 and appreciating that the majority of pictures used over the years have been taken at T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  Just showing how T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has been a huge part of the history and the success of an industry that has germinated, broken ground and now going Prime Time.   

10. Because our formula works and while it is impossible to satisfy everyone which makes it hard for me to win Miss Congeniality, every domain investor has directly and/or indirectly benefited from T.R.A.F.F.I.C. over and over again. My stubbornness about doing it right regardless of budgets, costs and pressures has made T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  the longest running, longest surviving, most important domain name show and paid dividends to everyone. Friend and foe.  


While those are Rick's top 10 reasons to come, they weren't his only ones. While we left the tape rolling he added some reasons addressed to one group in particular.  "Because it is in your best self interest. Especially new gTLDs that have been AWOL when it comes to marketing and giving a vision of why their extension has value and should be considered before one of the other 1400," Schwartz said. "Their dismal and stalling numbers look worse with every passing day. At some point they either have to sell their products, consolidate or die on the vine. To not go to a venue where just one attendee can double or triple their entire registration base is mind boggling. To pass up an opportunity to get up on stage at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and present your vision to the most qualified domainers in the world and all you have to do is show up is mind boggling . What do they fear? Me? LOL!" 

Schwartz continued, "Ask .Club because they are sponsoring  their third consecutive T.R.A.F.F.I.C. show and last time I looked they were high on the charts and doing better than most. Ask TLDRegistry. I wonder why? See what WE won't do is market for you or actively sell for you. Howard and I give you a platform regardless of any personal views I might have. It's up to you to take advantage of that platform and persuade professional domainers. It is not up to us to prop you up and be pitch men. And I think this is all time sensitive because sales and marketing will get harder not easier as the field gets more crowded. Many are relying on the marketing and success of others to sell theirs. Good luck with that strategy. Each passing day my personal skepticism gets more and more reinforced and the window of success is getting shorter not longer. Registrations have completely stalled for MANY and T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is the way to jump start their own investments."

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. hostess Barbara Neu (leaning on table) 
with guests at the 2013 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East Party 
on Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Since I have spent years talking about why people should attend T.R.A.F.F.I.C. (and other domain conferences as well) I don't think I need to add a top ten of my own on this topic. I don't know of anything that can supercharge a business or investing strategy more effectively than meeting face to face and building relationships with people who have already succeeded at what you want to do. Fortunately people in our business are some of the most generous in the world when it comes to sharing their knowledge and wanting to see others succeed. 

There is a feeling that we are all in this together and working toward the same goal - growing an industry that is the foundation for the greatest communications medium in the 

history of mankind. Every great online business (and they are all going online, or going extinct) is built on a domain name. So, get out there and meet your fellow travelers on this great adventure. Doing so has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined and it can change yours too.

*****


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