May 2013         DNJournal.com       The Domain Industry News Magazine

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Back By Popular Demand: After a 5-Year Absence Rick Schwartz & Howard Neu Take T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Back to Las Vegas This Month 

One of the most highly anticipated T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conferences in the 9-year history of the pioneering domain industry event is coming up May 29 - June 1, 2013 at the world renowned Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas

From 2005-2008 Las Vegas was an annual stop on T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s global tour and their shows at the Venetian Hotel during that stretch drew sizeable crowds from around the world. Even so, the upcoming event at the Belllagio will be the first T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference that show co-founders Rick Schwartz and Howard Neu have run in Las Vegas in five years (there was a January 2010 show at the Hard Rock Hotel under the 

T.R.A.F.F.I.C. banner, but that one was produced by Rick Latona under a one-year licensing deal that allowed him to stage several shows in North America and Europe).

For several years now domain investors have been lobbying Schwartz and Neu in effort to bring the conference back to the Live Entertainment Capital of the World. To find out exactly why they are going back now and what they have in store for attendees, I connected with the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. co-founders to get the answers to those questions. Here is how our conversation went:

DN Journal: Gentlemen, your 2005-2008 Las Vegas shows were among the most popular in the history of the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. series. Why were you away from Las Vegas this long and what prompted your decision to return now?

Howard Neu
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder

Howard Neu: The national and world economy has been a major factor in our choices of venues for T.R.A.F.F.I.C.  It is much more expensive to put on a show in Las Vegas than in Florida and the domain community has been unable to support the multiple domain conferences that have been held each year until now. This is the first year since 2009 that we are doing more than one show, and that was because the domain community really wanted us to go to Las Vegas, even though we are already committed to shows in Florida through 2015.

Rick Schwartz: It all comes down to timing! Plus the famous Need, Want, Desire. Folks love Vegas. Las Vegas is also a place most folks are happy to go to and bring their wives and enjoy themselves.

DN Journal: One of the most obvious changes from past T.R.A.F.F.I.C. shows will be the change of venue, with the world famous Bellagio Hotel (complete with its dancing fountains) hosting the event for the first time. After some great shows at the Venetian (Editor's note: Our review of the last show there in 2008 can be viewed here) what led you to make the move and why do you think the new location make the 2013 show something special?

Howard Neu: In 2011, my wife Barbara and I participated in site visits to 8 different hotels on the Las Vegas Strip and found that the Bellagio, which is the number one resort hotel in the United States, was the most accommodating to us and had the necessary configuration of meeting space that we required.

Rick Schwartz: Plus, Itís a shorter walk to the ballrooms!! Everyone loved the Venetian but hated the walk back to the room. Bellagio will be easy on the feet. Plus it just happens to be one of the best hotels in the entire world and the setup is very conducive to networking, schmoozing and deal making.

DN Journal: T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has taken great pains over the years to present a program that addresses the most currently relevant issues to the domain industry. Do you, like so many others, see new gTLDs as the overriding issue at this point in time or will the agenda reflect other concerns?

Rick Schwartz: We are always cutting edge and we wait to put the agenda together to insure we tackle the most relevant topics of the day and the year ahead. We do have a session on new gTLDs but there has been no clamor for more at all. There is diminishing buzz right now in this sector and dozens of companies have withdrawn their applications. So the future is very uncertain as of now and with the problems they are facing on many fronts, it looks like things will be further delayed and I would imagine we are apt to see more casualties before they even launch. One thing we wonít do is ignore this sector. But it will be events on the ground that will dictate how much time we spend on it - as it should be.

Rick Schwartz
T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Co-Founder

DN Journal: As important as a relevant agenda is, show goers have made it clear that the #1 reason they spend their time and money going to T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is for the opportunity to network. The best of those opportunities usually come in casual settings like the hotel lobby and hallways and at the show's social events. What do you have planned to make sure T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas is the ultimate place to network? 

Rick Schwartz: Networking is the backbone of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.. That is why we break bread together and help folks meet each other and talk to new people at every opportunity. And of course it starts with the Famous opening night T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Cocktail Party. The one that launched an industry and the one that pays for the entire show for attendees. Yes, the networking at our opening event is THAT good. Folks should make sure they attend on Wednesday night (May 29).

Howard Neu: In addition to having the exclusive use of a cabana area prior to the show, our meeting room configuration promotes networking and meeting in both large and small groups.  

A scene from the last T.R.A.F.F.I.C. 
conference at Ft. Lauderdale Beach, 
Florida
in October 2012.

DN Journal: After years of expansion in the number of domain conferences, an unhealthy situation (at least for promoters) developed with the pie cut too many ways for all of the shows to survive. Many turned off the lights and at the moment only two globally focused shows remain and Webfest has not yet announced if they will return next year. As the originators of the category and guys who live the conference business day in and day out  - how would you characterize of the current health of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. and the overall domain conference sector that facilitates so much business for investors and service providers? 

Howard Neu: The advent of T.R.A.F.F.I.C. almost 10 years ago created the domain industry, which has had its ups and downs throughout the years. T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has survived, and even flourished while others have fallen by the wayside because it is a show for domainers BY domainers. Unlike others who have copied our format, we have nothing to sell except the furtherance of the industry.

Rick Schwartz: Our recipe is a bit different and that is why we have been able to survive all this time while

others have not been as fortunate. Itís because we have a mission and a direction and a purpose and our goal is doing it right and moving things forward, not making money. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats. That is how we get paid.

DN Journal: If people look at the most successful faces in the domain industry they will notice  that most of those same faces are seen at T.R.A.F.F.I.C. year in and year out. Yet, even after nearly a decade of conferences, you still have some people asking if it is worth the cost to attend? Why do you think that disconnect exists when the answer would seem to be fairly  obvious?  

Rick Schwartz: Many have a hard time risking anything. They have this standard of how many domains they can register for the cost of the show. What they donít realize is there is no cost because the dividends and deals done trump all that many times over. Successful people know the path to success. They repeat that path. That is why all the top guys and gals are there and others that want to be included. I have watched so many come with nothing

Howard Neu (left) and Rick Schwartz at the 
2009 T.R.A.F.F.I.C. New York conference.

and thank me over and over again for the opportunity. They tell me T.R.A.F.F.I.C. changed their lives. Thatís our standard and most donít understand or recognize opportunity. Opportunity happens when you do something proactive.

Howard Neu: Everybody who is rather well-known in their professional circles, be they politicians, actors or show promoters, have their share of naysayers and detractors. The ďdisconnectĒ is promoted by those people who, for whatever reason, do not wish to see others succeed in whatever their endeavor may be.

DN Journal: Howard and Rick - thank you for you time. Before we close is there  anything else you want our readers to know about T.R.A.F.F.I.C. Las Vegas 2013?

Howard Neu: Las Vegas is always a great place to visit, even if you donít gamble. The sights and sounds on the Strip cannot be duplicated anywhere else. They are an important reason why T.R.A.F.F.I.C. loves Las Vegas more than any other venue in the Western United States. It brings a feeling of excitement to our lives that can be shared with our professional friends and family.  T.R.A.F.F.I.C. has always been a family of a close-knit industry, one that may have differences but all have a common goal. Thatís why T.R.A.F.F.I.C. means BUSINESS

Rick Schwartz: Together we have great untapped power. That is the true magic of T.R.A.F.F.I.C.. When you bring folks of this caliber together, GREAT things happen. When people leave T.R.A.F.F.I.C. they feel invigorated and recharged and they have many things to follow up on when they get back home. So T.R.A.F.F.I.C. does not end on June 1. Itís the day the NEW opportunities begin.

DN Journal: Those who want more information on show can visit TargetedTraffic.com. You can also take advantage of the special show rate for rooms at the Bellagio Hotel through this link (if you act before T.R.A.F.F.I.C.'s block of rooms sells out). We will of course be in Las Vegas to cover the conference and hope to see many of you in person there.

*****


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