Not a Mirage: HostingCon 2006 - Meanwhile, on the Exhibit Floor
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HostingCon actually listed on its web site the giveaways that the various vendors had at their booths. It looked a lot like the kind of giveaways I remembered from my days covering Internet-centered conferences before the bubble burst. Multiple vendors were giving away iPods; some were giving away as many as five. cPanel's prizes included a helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon. There were of course plenty of smaller giveaways too -- rubber ducks, pens, yo-yos, T-shirts, coffee mugs, key chain flashlights and more. One notable company, XS4ALL Internet, came all the way from the Netherlands and held a drawing at the end of each day to give away "typical Dutch packages (including tulips, Heineken merchandise etc)."
Several companies went above and beyond to get noticed. For instance, FastServers.Net hosted a live game show called Trivia Challenge Plus (TCP). The game show was set up to challenge six contestants at a time with both technical and general trivia questions. The company planned 23 shows, with prizes including iPod Nanos. A "Grand Finale" round pitted six contestants against each other for the grand prize of a Dell 50 inch plasma TV. One participant in one of the game shows enjoyed it, but noted he was "Robbed of winning the Ipod Nano...because 1 young lady had a short skirt and was standing right next to the judge!"
Meanwhile, Web Hosting Talk was broadcasting live from the exhibition floor for much of the convention, which excited a bit of buzz. And TopHosts managed to tie in a casino theme, with an online slot machine that allowed users to win TopHosts Bucks (there were other ways to win the money as well). The money could be used at TopHosts' prize auction. Prizes included an Xbox 360, Sony PSP3, iPod Nano, and a Sony digital camera.
There were many vendors whose giveaways and prizes were specifically related to their businesses, too. Several companies were giving away technical support as prizes, for example. Comodo was giving away $5000 in a Comodo reseller account. Easyantispam was giving away a year of free service to five people (one year and one server each). And these are just a few examples.
All in all, HostingCon 2006 was an informative and enjoyable event for all attendees. With any luck at all, there will be another one next year. If you're in the web hosting industry, you should seriously consider attending.
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