Dave got asked back to speak on the SEO Panel at the Budapest Affiliate Conference so we headed to Budapest on Thursday for the weekend. Fortunately we have great sets of parents who are always on hand to look after the kids when we need to travel to conferences, so it was Dave’s Mum and Dad’s turn to take over.
To get to Budapest we had to fly out of Manchester on Jet2, and I was fortunate to get Row1 seats so we had loads of legroom for the nearly 3 hour flight. We got into Budapest around 6.30pm and headed to the Sofitel Hotel through the busy traffic in Budapest. As we stepped out of the taxi we were greeted by the friendly face of Dave Snyder from Search & Social and Scott, who has joined his team. They were about to head for dinner but waited for us to check in, dump our bags in our room and join them. The interior of the hotel was fantastic and we had a room on the top floor overlooking the Danube.
We strolled through the streets of Budapest and found a lovely Italian restaurant. After a delicious meal we headed to the opening night party sponsored by Expekt.com at the Creole Bar, close to the hotel. The place soon filled up and we found a table outside where we enjoyed the free drinks (not too many) and the warm Budapest night. We caught up with lots of people that we haven’t seen since Amsterdam in April which was great, then headed back to the hotel around 1am.
Since we were quite restrained at the pre-conference party we were up with the alarm for breakfast before we got on one of the laid on coaches to take us to the conference centre. Driving through Budapest gave us a look at the sights and the huge buildings and impressive architecture that there is. We finally got through the queues at registration, unfortunately there wasn’t a fast track lane for speakers, and then headed into the expo hall and to the conference room to watch Snyder give his presentation on Social Media and viral marketing. Dave wasn’t on until 2pm so that gave us time to catch up with Bob Rains, Marcus Tandler and Chris Cemper.
Before we joined the queue for lunch we watched Brunson Doyle (massively successful and famous poker player) being interviewed and picked up invites for that night to his poker room in Budapest. It was then time to head to Dave’s session where he was joined on the SEO Panel by Bob Rains, Jason Duke and Gary Beal.
The hot topics of the session were brand related search terms and how much you really should be spending on links. Many gambling operators tend to have huge link budgets that they throw at a company who will spend it. We have a different theory on links and we know it’s not about the quantity of links that a site has, it’s all about the quality. So when we work with clients in all sectors, including the gaming industry, we tackle links in a different way and only get the links they need to improve the rankings and set the budget as needed.
The SEO Panel itself is a difficult session in that it can be pretty unstructured and random what information is given to the audience. I had some feedback afterwards as to how it could be improved with some more structure and pre set discussion topics and even getting people to submit questions before the panel, even if anonymously, if they didn’t feel confident enough to stand up in the session.
After the session, as usual Dave gets a lot of attention, so business cards were being swapped and discussions continued in the expo hall. I can’t quite recall where the next few hours went before we caught the bus back to the hotel but it was more networking, an afternoon beer, meeting new people and talking SEO. Even though it’s a very male dominated sector, I never feel out of place, and to be honest tend to prefer to be in a technical conversation talking about SEO, than gossiping about shoes and makeup! 🙂
There were some very beautiful women at the conference who were the booth girls. Basically the girls that wander around handing out freebies and leaflets about the operators that they are working for to the affiliates that are in the expo hall. There were 2 very “brave” girls walking around topless, that were body painted .. they got a lot of attention but I can’t for the life of me remember who they were promoting?
Once we got back to the hotel we had about an hour to freshen up and get changed for dinner. We were heading with Snyder and Scott and others to the best Mexican restaurant in Budapest called Iguana. LoL … yes we went to Hungary and ate Italian and Mexican! The food was amazing and we had a great time and good conversation. After we left we decided to head to Brunson Doyle’s poker room with our VIP passes only to find that we’d missed the party and everyone had moved on to the official conference party sponsored by Chance Room, at the best club in Budapest called the White Angel. The club was amazing and was on many levels with girls dressed as angels dancing on podiums and strange mannequins on the ceiling. We spent most of the night with Snyder, Scott, Bob and Marcus in the VIP room which even had a hot tub next to the bar.
One of the problems with this sort of party though is that the music is so loud that you can’t hear each other talking, and as its a male dominated industry none of the guys get up and dance as they just want to continue networking. I’m not quite sure why the main party at conferences are held at a club as many people say the same thing afterwards about the noise level or end up moving outside or elsewhere to talk. Again we were being pretty good with the free drinks, as we planned to use the spare time before we flew out the next day for sightseeing, and left about 1am.
The next morning on Saturday we gave ourselves a bit of a lie in before breakfast and check out. We stowed our luggage at the hotel and headed into Budapest. We would have liked to get to the conference to see Calvin Ayres (founder of Bodog, and well respected in the industry) speak but we then wouldn’t have had time to see the city.
Budapest is a beautiful city with grand buildings that have ornate sculptures on them and touches of gold. There are many statues around the city from the communist days and every street has a very eastern European feel to it. There is the other side to Budapest though and that is the amount of graffiti everywhere. It’s certainly not to the level of Banksy, but there is just a lot of tagging.
In some areas its worse than others, and surprisingly the statutes are not tagged at all unless the government make sure it’s cleaned up on these. I sort of don’t mind the graffiti as I think it adds character to a city on some levels. We popped back to the hotel for lunch and then headed out for more sightseeing.
We crossed the Chain bridge that was next to the hotel and crossed the huge River Danube … then crossed back again! It was time to get a taxi to the airport and head back to the UK. What a great trip!
Their next conference will be the London Affiliate Conference at the end of January so I’ll have to get things organised so that Dave and I can head back again for this great conference with great people.