One of the many benefits of being a successful Internet entrepreneur is the ability to travel. Building a successful affiliate marketing business takes a lot of hard work and I have spent long hours at my home office. The ability to get away periodically, see the world and interact with others in the affiliate marketing industry is a key element to my success as it helps to recharge my batteries, reenergizes me and keeps me abreast of the latest in the industry.
My most recent "breakation" as I call them, took me to one of my favorite spots, Las Vegas, Nevada. The Affiliate Summit West 2009 was held this January, and despite the stumbling economy attendance was up by 10%. Although the yearly growth for this show tends to be higher, that still meant more than 3200 additional people came to the summit this year.
This growth is significant, as my own unofficial survey of local cab drivers showed that tourism and trade show attendance in general is down by 25-30%. This proves to me that affiliate marketing is still a growing, viable business and it isn't too late for people to get started.
This year's Affiliate Summit conference was as enjoyable and educational as always. It is always great to meet other marketers, talk with merchants and meet up with some of my current and past students for some fun, good food and great conversations.
As usual I had a million things to get done before racing out the door for the airport - post some projects to Elance, make sure my writers had everything they needed, get my hair cut. I always like to get to my destination a day or two before it starts to enjoy the sites and settle in before getting down to business. This trip was no difference.
Arriving on Saturday I was able to meet up with a number of students and associates at McFaddens Irish Pub at the Rio for dinner and an evening of fun before the event kicked off Sunday morning.
The next morning I was up bright and early to get registered and take part in the "Meet Market" that includes 100+ mini-booths set up by a wide variety of merchants. The venue was packed and it was a great time for affiliates and merchants to network.
The main event kicked off on Monday with the trade show where merchants were able to share their opportunities with affiliates. I had a great chat with the rep from the Google Affiliate Network, as well as a long discussion with an eBay affiliate manager.
I also dropped by the Sandals Resorts booth to have a chat with Lydia Browne. A few months ago my son was about to develop a travel site around the Sandals Resorts, but I squashed the idea thinking it was a bad time to start it due to the economy. Interestingly, Lydia informed me that travel sales were up. I was surprised but she had the numbers to back it up. As a result I am now reconsidering.
Lydia also invited my wife Arlene and I to attend their event in September in the Bahamas. Sandals is famous for spoiling their affiliates with trips to the Bahamas to enjoy their wonderful resorts, so that should be a fun trip.
The trade show was a beehive of activity, and there were 20% more booths this year compared to last. This created a lot of conversations and business negotiating between merchants and affiliates. But the trade show was just a part of the Affiliate Summit. Monday and Tuesday also included many speakers and I had a chance to sit in on a few of the sessions.
Jay Berkowitz from 10GoldenRules.com was engaging as always, sharing 10 Internet Marketing Strategies, and Todd Crawford hosted a panel on fraud prevention. I wouldn't normally sit in on this type of session as it is primarily for merchants, but Joshua Sloan, Director of the largest hosting company, 1&1 Hosting, was on the panel Todd was moderating. It turned out to be very interesting to learn how merchants combat fraudulent affiliates and the primary reason why so many merchants no longer auto-approve their affiliates.
Of course, the trip to Vegas is never just about business. As such there were a lot of parties to attend. Digital River commandeered the Lucky Strike Lanes, a retro bowling alley inside the Rio. With a number of SUPER BootCamp students in tow, we were wined and dined at this unique and fun party. There was even some competitive (and not so competitive) bowling.
ShareaSale had their usual first-class party. Although not as extravagant as usual, this 80's them party was a lot of fun as I was able to dress like the guys from Miami Vice. There were even period video games like Ms. Pacman and Gallaga. Gallaga is a great video game from the early 80's and I had a challenging contest with popular blogger Jim Krukal.
A lot of great conversations at these events tend to take place around food, and I had a couple of opportunities to eat great food and converse with other marketers, including Dave Taylor from AskDaveTaylor.com, Vinny of VinnyfromBrooklyn.com and Debbie Carney, Twitter expert and owner of LoxlyGallery.com.
This trip also gave us the opportunity to spend some quality time with current and former students, including Tammy Morales from ScrapBookersInnerCircle.com, Chris Molnar from HalloweenAlliance.com and Cheri Britton, Peter Appleby, David Cunningham and Mary Henderson.
Arlene took five students on a guided tour of Las Vegas, and on the final evening we met up with many of our students, as well as long-time friends and acquaintances, and enjoyed the world famous piano bar where "The Twins" (www.twinkeys.com) had the place in an uproar long into the night. It was a fabulous show and I highly recommend it.
As always, these events are a lot of fun and I had a great time at Affiliate Summit West 2009. But as is also usually the case, I was glad to get home and get back to work, energized and ready to put my new knowledge gained to work for me.
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