eBay Live 2004
WOW! Okay, that's an understatement for my eBay Live experience... I've just returned home after a 3000 mile round-trip drive, but I wanted to make a few notes about my weekend...
My days in New Orleans & at eBay Live...
We arrived in New Orleans about 5 pm on Wednesday, the evening before eBay Live opened. We met with my fellow SAPro-er (heck, my SAPro mentor!), Cindy Stone (tom*cindy*stone - at right), and her husband, Tom for dinner. What a delight to meet someone from the eBay community who has helped me sooooo much in learning SAPro!
Thursday morning, Kyle and I, along with 10,000 of our fellow eBayers and several hundred eBay employees arrived at the convention center for the festivities. We hooked up with my other SAPro mentor, Bob Sachs (rosachs - that's him in the center below with eBay/SAPro's John Slocum and SAPro-er Marie Valvo/shibamarie) and his wife, Kathy, prior to the orientations.
The welcoming address was presented by eBay CEO, Meg Whitman and VP of something or other, Jeff Jordan. Meg is an accomplished speaker. Jeff, unfortunately, could use some Toastmasters training so it won't be so obvious he's reading, rather than speaking to each person in the audience. What really was cool about this session was the stage setting - see below for a photo (See more photos here). Shadows of gymnasts behind the stage background brought the theme of "Leap to New Heights" alive!
The general orientation and the Power Seller orientation lacked much in the way of interest for us - first of all, even sitting on the floor was way overcrowded. The woman who was the overall eBay Live coordinator was a poor speaker at the general orientation, as was the Power Seller orientation presenter. (I admit - I was in Toastmasters for years and am really critical of speakers.) Kyle was nearly ready to turn around and head back home. Thankfully, he changed his mind not long after that!
On Thursday afternoon and all day Friday, I attended a few advanced classes and round-tables and visited many of the exhibitor's booths. I certainly also met many of my fellow eBay sellers. From getting a sneak preview of SAPro 3.0 from John Slocum to learning how others operate their eBay businesses to getting info from vendors who have services and products which support eBay sellers, I soaked up a TON of great information! And for fun, I collected most of the trading cards and all but one pin distributed on the exhibition floor. (See photos of the pins I got on this page.) (Hey - if you have an extra books pin...)
This is the tiara I made ahead of time to wear at eBay Live...I admit to liking to be noticed and this helped:
Saturday morning was an early one - the SAPro breakfast at 7:30 am. See the photos here for that activity. I was honored to be one of four SAPro-ers who received a Seller's Assistant User Group award for my contributions on the SAPro community board and my involvement as a beta tester. SAUG award - so Kyle calls my award my "SAUGie"!
The only class I attended on Saturday was the advanced SAPro class. As everyone else did, I also learned a couple things. When someone asked if there was an SAPro Users Guide, John Slocum pointed to me and mentioned my SAPro Quick Start Guide which I sell in an eBay auction and in my eBay store. Immediately I was innundated with requests for my business card. (Did I cost myself a few sales by not having any available on eBay until I returned home? Most likely - and I'll remember that for whatever I have going on during next year's eBay Live!)
Most of my time during the day on Saturday was spent visiting the exhibitions, gathering info, trading cards and pins.
Then - the Gala! Incredible! The doors opened at 6 pm. As we entered through a cloud-like tunnel, several hundred eBay employees lined each side and applauded us as we entered, thanking us for our eBay involvement and for attending eBay Live. I was moved and applauded right back - they sure help me in my biz!
We made our way to the buffet tables, found a seat, met a few more of our fellow eBayers, then walked around the thousands of people trying to find those few we wished to say goodbye to. (I never did find Meg to get her autograph on the t-shirt I had Griff and John Slocum sign...I hear Meg appeared in the last half hour, which I skipped.)
The whole setting for the Gala was phenomenal! My photos just don't do it justice, but may give you an idea of the grandeur of the decor and entertainment. My text does not really give you more than a glimpse of the weekend - if you'd like more info, visit the eBay Live discussion board to read more.
Aside from all the activities, I found the most valuable thing was meeting with and discussing business with my fellow sellers. I provided SAPro and TA info to many and received MUCH back in return! (A special thank you to Travis - tannermans_trading_co - for your information and advice!)
My suggestions for future eBay Lives...
Although eBay Live was a wonderful event, there are some things I'd like to see in the future:
Pre-eBay Live - A chart of class, round-table and all other events should be printed on the eBay Live website so we can more easily plan our hours before arriving. I would also have liked to be able to look up user IDs of those who were registered to attend eBay Live before leaving so I could make arrangements for meeting them. (This could be an optional registry for those who'd like to let others know they would be attending. Granted, some mentioned they'd be attending on the boards, but if I could look up if A, B & C would be at eBay Live, being able to look in one place would be easier.)
eBay Live Facilities - The convention center should have a Wi-Fi area in which all those who use cell phones, PDAs and Laptops to connect to the internet via wireless service can easily hook-up. Also, I'd like to see more food options on the premises - the cafeteria in the convention center in N.O. had horrible food at prices higher than any airport I've been in!
Special Activities - Let's get to the root of online auctions - a real live auction! I've not thought out what may be auctioned off, but I can imagine bidding on lunch with Meg, Pierre or Griff would be a hot item, as would a deluxe package for the next year's eBay Live (travel, hotel, meals, convention ticket).
Exhibitions - How about setting aside 10 mini-booths for eBay members to purchase at a reduced rate - or receive for free for one hour ? I would have loved to present info to others about using SAPro, being a Trading Assistant, creating graphics or all of these. I would love to know I could find so-and-so at X o'clock to meet and talk with him. Perhaps those interested in having a booth for an hour could submit a detailed plan a few months prior to eBay Live and would be accepted based on objective criteria? (I know I was sought out by many and others were even more sought out than I for info we have to share...I like to make presentations and if it was known ahead of time I was going to be at Booth Z at such-and-such a time, I could have disseminated even more info.)
Networking - As a former PowerSeller of the Month (September, 2003, when my ID was SoAzAuctions), I would have liked to be able to find any other PSOTMs in attendance. I also would have liked to find some other specific members. If there was a "networking central" location where I could have left messages easily and checked for such, I think I could have found those I was seeking. An online directory of attendees may work - I would have put "PSOTM, SAPro, Trading Assistant, Platinum PS (my AZSC ID), SoAzAuctions, Tucson, graphic designer" in my search profile and would look up the keyword PSOTM, for example, in my search for others. Being able to easily search for others and retrieve info from those who were seeking me would have added to my eBay Live experience. Again, this is another idea I've not really thought out, but perhaps someone else can offer a way this can be handled.
Super-Advanced Classes - As a 5 year+ seller and active boards contributor, even the advanced class offerings at eBay Live were pretty much too basic for me. I want to know how another TA opened his drop-off store on a shoestring, for example. I may want to discover options for accepting credit cards through a merchant account. I may want a CPA to tell me how I should set up my bookkeeping. I may want to know how to use data to drive and grow my biz. And so on. So many powersellers were at eBay Live - I'm certain others have advanced knowledge and would love to attend super-advanced classes and round-tables as well.
Seller Tracks Classes - Along the same line as the above, perhaps more specialized classes could be offered for TAs - those interested in beginning info and those who want to increase their current TA biz. A seller may want to discover ideas for finding wholesale lots or get ideas for products under-represented on eBay. One vendor, SmartCollector, has a service which will compete with Andale.com. If he had offered a class on how to find historical eBay sales info using his product, I would have attended.