ANNOUNCER: Welcome to the Domain Name Wire Radio. Find Domain Name Wire on the web at www.domainnamewire.com. Now here’s your host, Andrew Allemann.
ANDREW: Welcome to Domain Name Wire Radio. I’m Andrew Allemann. Today we have a great guest, but before we get to that just a couple of reminders. First of all you can listen to and download this podcast and any previous Domain Name Wire shows as well as read a transcripts www.domainnamewire.com/radio. I’d also like to thank our sponsor, Traverse Legal. You can find out more about Traverse Legal on the web at www.traverselegal.com. Michael, Michael Ward, is the executive director of Domainer Mardi Gras. Welcome to the show, Michael.
MICHAEL: Thank you for having me here, Andrew, it’s a pleasure.
ANDREW: So, Michael, this is your first year as executive director of Domainer Mardi Gras. Tell us a little bit about that. I know you were involved with the show last year, but this year you are heading it up.
MICHAEL: Absolutely. So as you know, last year Domainer Mardi Gras debuted, it was a conference that was initiated by the magazine, Modern Domainer. It was a great event. They had a lot of success with it. Modern Domainer right now is at a point where they are re-evaluating the domaining industry and where it fits into it. We took a look at it, we took a look at Domainer Mardi Gras, and said this is something that we definitely wanted to continue so we set it as a separate initiative that is being managed by myself and hosted by Parked.com.
ANDREW: Great. Ok, now of course I was there last year, the first year of the program, and the thing I remember the most and what a lot of people are still talking about is the story about the entertainment from the crawfish boil, nights on the balconies, the parade. What will the entertainment be like this year?
MICHAEL: That’s a good question. We have taken a look at what we did last year, and what worked and naturally the crawfish boil will certainly be coming back and that kicks off Domainer Mardi Gras on Thursday evening, February 11th. We also have the famous Bourbon Street Balconies that will be sponsored by Parked.com. Those will be taking place Friday and Saturday, and then we have also looked at the needs of conference attendees and realized they wanted more opportunities for networking both during the show and outside of the show. We are making available, as an example, Thursday afternoon during registration; attendees can take the opportunity to have a cruise on the Mississippi. The cruise starts at 2:30 and goes until 4:30. There are also plenty of parades attendees will be able to experience and witness as well.
ANDREW: The crawfish boil, now last year I was a little bit nervous, because I’m not into the crawfish, but for those who are worried, of course, there is a lot more food to it than just crawfish.
MICHAEL: Absolutely. We understand that and we are taking all dietary needs into consideration. The crawfish are certainly something that you should try at least once, but we’ll also have a lot of other traditional New Orleans cuisine available for those who want to eat something else.
ANDREW: What other changes are in store this year?
MICHAEL: That’s a good question. We took a look at last year’s show, as well as some of the other conferences that are taking place in the space, and we wanted to improve upon both. So one of the first changes you’re going to notice this year is that we have partnered with Moniker to do an auction, but rather than have a live auction where you get a lot of people sitting in a room for several hours waiting for perhaps one or two domains to bid on that they are interested in, we thought there was a better use of that time. So we partnered with Moniker to hold a showcase auction, and I’m sure many people in the industry are familiar with Moniker Showcase Auctions. So we are going to have a week long online auction that will start the Tuesday before the show and it will end on Tuesday, Mardi Gras, February 16th, and we will showcase some of the domains at Domainer Mardi Gras, but it won’t be a 3 hour ordeal, it will be 30 – 45 minute event. So that’s one of the biggest changes we are going to see this year. The second change focuses on compelling content, and I won’t go into that too much other than to say that you know we are working hard to make sure we have the right content at the show. We do a lot of preparation in advance with some of our panelists to ensure everybody is prepared and the attendees get what they want from the panels.
ANDREW: The agenda is posted online at www.domainermardigras.com, correct?
MICHAEL: The agenda is posted online at DomainerMardiGras.com. And then the two other changes we are seeing that we are doing this year; one is I’m inviting a broader audience, relevant community to the conference. I’m definitely of the opinion that this industry is very insular and the insulation limits grow so I’m reaching out to other verticals to invite them to the show whether as an affiliates, whether that’s new ad networks, and technology and entrepreneurs. I do want to point out that there is another technology meeting that is taking place the same time as Domainer Mardi Gras in New Orleans, so I’ve reached out to that group, and we are going to introduce our guests to each other on the balcony and see if there are opportunities to be made. And then the fourth one is, obviously, the new hotel.
ANDREW: And what is the story on that? Why the change in hotel?
MICHAEL: Well, quite honestly, the hotel this year is at the New Orleans Marriott. It’s on Canal Street, it’s a lot closer to Bourbon Street, it’s a lot closer to where the parades will be taking place, it’s a better venue, it’s got a better conference set up, and it’s cheaper hotel rooms, and it’s just an all around better location for the event.
ANDREW: Well speaking of the hotel and logistics, being that this is Mardi Gras, how soon should people make their hotel and air reservations?
MICHAEL: That’s a great question. I cannot stress this enough. First of all, hotel rates are $179 a night which for Mardi Gras is extremely low. That rate is available through January 21st and after January 21st; I will be giving up any remaining rooms that are available. They will be going back into the block. So make your reservation today, and as far as flying into New Orleans, that needs to be done ASAP as well. New Orleans, it’s not impossible to get into, but since it is over Mardi Gras weekend, we will probably have several hundred thousand visitors come in that weekend, you know, you need to make your airline reservations today.
ANDREW: Ok, so looking at the domain shows, obviously, we have a busy schedule this first January and February in domain shows, and of course, yours is themed around Mardi Gras so you didn’t get to pick the exact date, but compared to other shows, who is this one targeted to, and you already talked about how open it is, but speaking specifically to domainers, who is the ideal domainer to attend this conference?
MICHAEL: That’s a good question. The ideal domainer we are targeting is not necessarily that much different from the other shows; however, the structure we have created for our target is probably different. And that is it’s a relaxed party, festive environment. It’s going to take place over 3 days. We’re given the opportunity; I’ll say it’s a structured network. There’s so much to do in New Orleans over Mardi Gras weekend, and we’re providing a venue for domainers to get together in a relaxed, small environment, and network or have meetings in a way that they might not be able to in other bigger shows.
ANDREW: When we look at the pricing as well, talk a little bit about, we already talked about the hotel, but how much is a conference pass and how can people register for it?
MICHAEL: Sure. The current list price for a conference pass is $995, but there are several discounts available. Number 1 if you book a hotel room at the New Orleans Marriott, you automatically get a $300 discount. I also have another promotion out there that is special $495 rate and all you have to do is contact me, and I’ll give you that rate. So there are enough affordable rate prices available for attendees.
ANDREW: And how can people contact you?
MICHAEL: They can contact me at mward (at) domainermardigras.com.
ANDREW: And the agenda and other registration information as well as hotel is online, of course, at www.domainermardigras.com.
MICHAEL: That’s correct.
ANDREW: To wrap things up, here, I’d like to give you a chance to give your 30 second pitch on why people should spend the money and take the time to attend Domainer Mardi Gras 2010.
MICHAEL: Perfect question, and thank you for the opportunity. Essentially New Orleans Mardi Gras is a must see event. If you haven’t been to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, this is the opportunity to do it. We have created a great 3 day event which will allow you to experience Mardi Gras like you never have before. It’s a very relaxed environment. I heard from several people who attended last year that probably some of the biggest deals they were able to close on happened at Domainer Mardi Gras. We’ve create a relaxed, structured environment to get together and catch up with domainers and make deals happen. So we look forward to seeing you there.
ANDREW: Great. Alright, we’d like to just one final time remind people in case they missed the first two that you can go online to www.domainermardigras.com to find all the information for the event; hotel venue, date, etc. And the exact dates are..
MICHAEL: February 11th – February 13th it’s a Thursday through Saturday. My recommendation is to fly in on Thursday, the event kicks off Thursday evening and to stay at a minimum through that Sunday, February 14th.
ANDREW: And, of course, the $495 conference rate, you can contact Michael, directly, at mward (at) domainermardigras.com.
MICHAEL: That’s correct.
ANDREW: Michael thanks so much for being on the show, and we look forward to seeing you in New Orleans next month.
MICHAEL: Thank you for having me.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to Domain Name Wire Radio. Keep up to date on domain name news at www.domainnamewire.com.