Wow, I still can’t believe that DNCruise was almost two weeks ago! I had planned on releasing this post earlier in the week but given the number of photos and videos I took it’s turned-into quite a project! DNCruise 2011 was an incredible experience, and if you didn’t get a chance to make it this year, I hope this post will help you feel like you came-along, at least for parts of the adventure.
First things first. Patrick and Ze deserve a huge “Thank You” from myself and the Domaining community for putting-together such an innovative conference. DNCruise is not like any conference I’ve been to before – it is part education, part adventure, and lots of networking. This is probably one of the best features of DNCruise – since you’re all on a boat together there are lots of opportunities to network whether it’s in the conference room, on the boat, or at a destination. Getting everyone out of their element and away from the constant pressures of email and phone calls makes a big difference.
Since you’re coming along for the adventure with me let’s start at the beginning – getting on the boat!
When you first get on a cruise ship there’s usually a rush of excitement and the need to explore. After getting-into our rooms we hit the deck and started checking-out the ship. Of course, it wasn’t too long until we bumped-into some Domaining friends and soon we were all sitting outside enjoying a beer together. As more and more DNCruise attendees hit the deck we all came-together and enjoyed some time catching-up.
After the initial schmoozing we had to attend the safety training that all cruise ships start their voyage with. Once again, just walking down the aisle to find a seat we bumped into Braden, Lisa, and Mike from NameTalent! Just another great example of how cool it is to be on a cruise ship with a bunch of Domainers, everywhere you turn on the ship – there’s a Domainer there or closeby!
Next we went to the opening night party which was the first chance for all of us to get-together as a group. This was a lot of fun and it was great to see a lot of new faces at the show this year! The opening night party was followed by our first dinner together. Here’s yet another nice feature of having a conference on a cruise ship. I’ve found that often at conferences everyone splits into groups and hits the town for dinner. While there’s nothing wrong with this there is something nice about all eating together each night. This is also another great example of the incredible amount of networking opportunities DNCruise offers attendees.
After dinner we hit the casino and then onto Gregg’s room for late-evening party! As you all know I don’t blog about parties at nightlife so you’ll have to suffice with the picture below. If you want to see how fun Domainer nightlife is, you’ll have to come in person!
The next morning we had a day at sea and the first day of talks. Patrick did an incredible job of getting amazing speakers and relevant topics that were useful to the whole group. The sessions started with introductions by everyone and a contest to see who could remember the most names. Sunny, an attendee of DNCruise 2010 won the contest by naming every single person in the room – very impressive!
The first talk of the day was by Vaughn Liley, the Director of Sales from ICM Registry, the people behind .XXX. Vaughn talked about the new TLD and some of the thinking behind it. He brought-up some great points about why this TLD has a bright future and I tend to agree. The fact of the matter is, like it or not, the web was built on porn. Not only that but the space has grown immensely over the last ten years. The problem is that x-rated sites can end-up on any extension out there making it hard for schools to block content or parents to identify what is appropriate for their kids. On the marketing-side, with so many .COM’s taken many adult businesses have had to brand themselves around less-than-ideal domain names.
It is clear from Vaughn’s talk that .XXX has some exciting times ahead and while I’m not an adult domain investor myself I’ll probably pick-up a few choice .XXX names for my portfolio…however I won’t be developing these 🙂 After Vaughn’s talk Karen Bernstein, a domain name attorney from New York talked about legal strategies for protecting domain names.
Karen touched on some very interesting topics from UDRP basics to some of the issues people have encountered with generics. Domain name law can often be a confusing subject and this was a solid talk to give some good foundations and important lessons to the group. After Karen’s talk Gregg McNair from PPX spoke about the state of the industry, where we are now, and where we are going. Gregg has his finger on the pulse of the industry and brought-up some very interesting points about how parking and investing has changed over the years.
The day ended with what I have to say is one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had at the conference, an interview with Ron Jackson. I think Ron Jackson has a special place in all of our hearts as one of the main leaders and ambassadors of our industry. DNJournal is without a doubt the most respected news source in the Domaining space and Ron has amazing insight into the industry and where we’re going.
We started the discussion with a look at how Ron got-into the Domaining world. Many of you might not know that Ron actually owned and operated a successful record store and was a television newscaster before discovering the Domain Industry. When Ron found-out about Domaining he was very interested in the space and saw an incredible opportunity to fill a void. The industry had no major publication and it desperately needed one. With great journalistic experience it didn’t take long before DNJournal was on the map and being quoted in major news sources all over the world.
If you want to learn a bit more about Ron I highly encourage you to watch the interview I did with him below. While this is not nearly as in-depth as what we went through on DNCruise it will give you a nice taste of who Ron is and what makes him a leader in the industry.
Our first full day on the ship came to a close and we were totally excited about what we were waking-up to – a day in Grand Cayman with none other than Frank Schilling! It was an early morning with all of us meeting at 7:30AM so we could leave the boat as a group. We all loaded-into a water taxi together and headed over to the port. From there we loaded-into buses and headed to the yacht harbor to take boats out into the ocean for a little stingray adventure!
So it seems that Grand Cayman is famous for Sting Rays and we would have a chance not just to see them, but to be in the water with them. Let me remind you this is not in some Sting Ray petting zoo, this all took place out in the middle of the Ocean! Of course there is no way for me to put an experience like this into words so I’ve put-together some photos and videos so you can come along for the adventure, are you ready? Start with the video below and you might just feel like you were in Grand Cayman with us!
(Frank Schilling on the boat saying Hello!)
After spending some quality time with the Stingrays we hopped on jet skis and followed Frank as he took us to one of his favorite spots on the island. This was one of the highlights of my year, we’re in the middle of paradise, flying across the water on jet skis with Frank Schilling – definitely a first for me and an experience that will never be forgotten. Frank took us to a very cool spot where we had the chance to hang-out for a few minutes and chat.
As you can see we are pretty much sitting in the middle of the ocean on a sandbar – how cool is that? As you all know I’m usually a very upbeat and excited guy but this one really blew me out of the water. What a beautiful part of the world and I can absolutely understand why Frank has made Grand Cayman his home. After hanging-out and doing a bit more jet skiing we hit dry land again for lunch and a talk by Frank Schilling.
While I didn’t shoot any video of Frank giving his talk Danno’s Blog posted a great video interview with Frank Schilling which I wanted to include below. This interview was done with Frank in the area where we had lunch and enjoyed a nice cold beer.
After lunch we headed back to the boats, which we took to the buses, which took us to the dock where we then took boats, to get to our boat. Never a dull moment!
Back on the boat we had dinner and then DNCruise kicked-off the first night of Game Night! At the end of the night Mike Law from NameTalent.com had won a brand-new iPad two! While I didn’t get a chance to see the Jenga competition in person I heard it was an intense battle!
Thursday morning we woke-up in Cozumel Mexico!
Daina and I spent the first couple of hours exploring the city, since I speak a little spanish I wanted to escape the touristy areas and hang with the locals. About twenty minutes after setting foot on Mexican soil we were out exploring the barrios.
We stopped for lunch at a local restaurant and were definitely the only tourists there. As a frequent traveler I’ve found that I like to live like a local at least for a little bit when exploring a new destination. If we were in Cozumel I definitely could have spent a couple days exploring but we had one day so had a lot to pack in! After lunch we hopped in a cab and headed to a beach resort – it was time to go snorkeling!
What was pretty special about this snorkeling adventure is that we managed to get our own boat so Daina and I had our own private snorkeling trip. When I’ve been snorkeling in the past it has always been with a big group so it was nice to do this with just the two of us!
Since I brought my underwater camera I took a ton of underwater videos which I’ll be going through in a bit and then sharing on my travel blog. We snorkeled in two different destinations and along with seeing lots of fish we also encountered a sea turtle!
It was a fantastic day and we even had time to pick-up Tajin, our favorite Mexican spice at a local supermarket. I discovered Tajin a few years ago in Mexico City and we’ve been hooked ever since. It’s an amazing spice that tastes great on fruit and just about everything else! Okay, enough about Cozumel and Tajin, back to the cruise ship!
The last day of DNCruise was completely dedicated to Domain Development. This was a great move by Patrick as Development is one of the hottest topics in the Domain Industry so really does deserve a day of its own! Before the development sessions began Ze and Charlie hosted the Ladies Only session. This is another great idea and one that I’m sure more Domaining conferences will include in the future but DNCruise is doing a great job of pioneering the idea!
The Domain Development sessions started with Craig Rowe from WhyPark talking about how he started the company and the good and bad events along the way. I found this particularly interesting as Craig detailed some of the joys and pains of starting a software company. I’ve been a huge fan of WhyPark’s for years and Craig did a great job showing how they’ve built an incredible solution for Domainers who want something in between parking and development.
After Craig I gave a talk about building brands and the process I follow turning domain names into brands. If any of you would like a copy of my presentation just shoot me an email and I’m happy to send it over.
(Photo taken by Mike Law – NameTalent.com)
Next I sat down with Braden Pollock from Legal Brand Marketing to talk about a very hot topic – lead generation. Braden shared some very interesting tips and tricks he’s learned over the years building a successful lead generation business in the legal space. This is one of those talks where I have to say, you really had to be there. Braden really did open up to the group and share some really solid insight.
After Braden’s talk Brian Gilbert from InnovationHQ, Jason Boshoff from Domain Holdings, and Craig Rowe from Why Park joined forces for a panel on SEO. The audience asked some great questions and Brian, Jason, and Craig shared a ton of valuable SEO tips.
The conference ended with a keynote speech by David Sams. If you don’t know who David is, you probably do, you just don’t know it! David helped to launch Oprah and was instrumental in making television shows like Wheel of Fortune a reality. David gave a great talk at DNCruise 2010 however I have to say, this year he topped it giving one of the best talks I’ve ever heard at a conference.
David’s point was clear and his reasoning was sound. Let’s stop wasting great domain names and instead starting building great brands. David is a domain investor who has used his domains to build some truly incredible brands. David’s currently has the #1 radio show in Orange County (and #4 in LA) which he has branded around his domain name KeepTheFaith.com. It was powerful, at one point David asked the audience a great question, “What is your legacy?”
This is a great question and one I think we all too often ignore. Are you putting your time and energy into building something your proud of, something that changes the world? Or are you just trying to make money? There’s nothing wrong with making money but don’t you want your legacy to be much more than that? We have an incredible opportunity as Domainers and David made a great call-to-action for everyone to use their creativity and vision to build real meaningful brands.
One of the great points that David talked about is how Domainers may wait years to do anything on a domain name because they are afraid of joint ventures. He said he was not afraid to give-away equity on a domain name if it meant he could turn it into a real brand. There is no way you can build-out all your names however joint ventures can absolutely help you develop more names and create long-lasting online brands.
And there you have it – DNCruise 2011! I want to personally thank Patrick and Ze for making DNCruise everything that it is. They dared to try something completely new last year, and it worked. This year they came-back with an incredible event even better than last year with more innovations, exciting destinations, and of course a great group of people. At the end of the day conferences are all about making connections and DNCruise has found a format that allowed all of us, once again, to create some great memories and share some wild adventures together.
DNCruise 2012 is on the agenda for next year, stay-tuned to DNCruise.com so you can make sure to attend next year!