Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay

Earlier this week, I had the honor of attending ShareASale’s Think Tank at the Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California. Being my first Think Tank, I didn’t quite know what to expect, and looking back on the event, there are some things that as an affiliate, I should have done differently.

I left Buffalo on Sunday, and made my way to San Francisco via Boston (huh? Yeah, not quite direct) and arrived in the early afternoon. Upon landing I found Kristin Kinsey looking for a ride, so we shared the Mercedes I had hired to the resort. The car looked tiny when it pulled up, but had lots of room on the inside.

After checking in, I made my way to my room and laid down for a nap. Even though I avoided coffee all day and took 2 Tylenol PMs on my cross-country flight, I didn’t sleep much on the plane. So laying down in the bed in my room was a welcome break. Simply amazing. I agree 100% with Missy:

Dear @RitzCarlton Half Moon Bay: I will miss your amazing pillows! I wish you sold them!less than a minute ago via TweetCaster

After my nap, I headed down to the Conservatory and had dinner with Logan, James, Aliki, Jason, Kristin, James and Nick, where we rediscovered Caipirinhas. I need to start making these at home. Afterwards, we headed up to Jason’s room to brainstorm, although that was a bit difficult. I can’t even remember what we talked about.

Ritz Carlton Ocean View Course Scorecard

Ritz Carlton Ocean View Course Scorecard

Monday was golf day, but I started out for a walk along the Coastal Trail, found a geocache, and touched the Pacific Ocean for the first time. I then met up with Danger Brown for lunch (“Danger” is his middle name, which means his parents are just badass) and then hit the links. In my foursome was Logan Thompson, James Seligman and Tony Pantano. We played well together, typically all slicing our drives off to the right, and driving our golf carts all over the place, looking for our golf balls. What made the round go quickly (well, over 5 hours for 18 holes) was the “2 putt max” rule, where we picked up our golf ball after 2 putts and moved on. This also took about 20 strokes off my total.

Shortly after golf was the Welcome Reception, where ShareASale handed out some well-needed fleece jackets, a book describing the venue and event, and a copy of Jim Kukral’s, “Attention! This Book Will Make You Money“. I wish I had read the Think Tank book beforehand, as there were Segway tours on Sunday, and the last page of the book was for autographs, which would have been a lot of fun.

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

During the welcome reception, I moved down to one of the firepits, then ended up again in Jason’s room, trying to talk business. I was treated to my first taste of Johnny Walker Blue and I have to say, it was delicious. The room was getting a little rowdy, so I headed back to bed.

Tuesday began the sessions at Think Tank. It seems all three of the sessions were ideal for affiliates, so we had to pick one. I attended Emerging Trends: Technology and Business with Deluxe Corp, Lion’s Den Deals, Raven Tools, and Vanns.com. This was a great session, with these merchants predicting future sales trends in their niche and coming up with ideas of how affiliates can take advantage of them. I promised my notes to a few people, maybe I’ll expand on them later here on my blog.

I then rushed over to the second set of sessions where I was on a panel, Affiliate Recruitment Strategies where we talked about how to get more active affiliates in your program. It was a lot of fun working with 2 other affiliates and 3 merchants, and I hope something I said was of use to someone. I’m glad to hear the others on the panel and I agreed on most points.

Afterwards I headed to Jason’s Affiliates-only session, where he walked through the ShareASale interface. While I use it daily, I still learned some things.

After lunch, one-on-one merchant meetings were scheduled. I only scheduled 1 with Raven Tools, so I had a lot of free time. Danger Brown and I went out in search of another geocache, then returned to the conference where he interviewed me. I hope that turned out OK – I think it was my first video interview (aside from the time my co-workers tricked me in going into the local news station to talk about child pornography online. I’ll never forget: Eric Nagel – Computer Expert – Child Pornography)!

James, Logan and I then had pizza delivered to my room (where a scary delivery guy was either waiting for more than a 25% tip for bringing a pizza in a box to my room, or was thinking of how to kill us all) and really brainstormed. Small groups is where its at. We then headed onto some sort of amusement park ride where Otto from the Simpsons took us to Thomas Fogarty Winery for the OPM Wine Tasting. I was really looking forward to this event, but was very queezy after the ride up. So I stuck with water and 7-up. That was also an early night.

Wednesday morning we had a delicious breakfast, then all got together and told Brian what’s wrong with ShareASale. Personally, I use the Fix It form regularly, and keep a TXT file on my desktop that I send to Jason often, too, but it was good hearing from others. Not only did I give a couple of ideas, while I listened to others, I found tools that I could create to help the industry. Be on the look-out for some new posts 🙂

During the day Wednesday, I was asked about my ride to SFO that night and since there was enough interest, upgraded the car to a 10-person limo. However, because the limo may snap in half, we had to limit the group to 7. What kind of limo is going to crack in half???

We had a bit more informal networking in the Conservatory, followed by hanging out in the sports bar then the lobby as we waited for our flights. Somehow the group scored some free wine, which was probably necessary after Delta delayed a flight to Atlanta by 3 hours. Cindy then “wove a tapestry of obscenities that as far as we know is still hanging in space over” Half Moon Bay while on the phone with a Delta rep. It was amusing for us to listen to, but I’m sure a pain for her to get home 🙁

If you get the opportunity to go to a ShareASale Think Tank, definitely jump on it! While it’s great getting together with old friends, I should have spent more time networking with those I didn’t know. I hadn’t known Tony before, but am very glad he was in our golf group and got to know him. It’s hard to balance building new relationships, and strengthening existing ones (kinda like balancing building new websites & maintaining existing ones, but you can sell websites – you can’t sell friends).

I also will never take a red-eye flight home. I just couldn’t sleep, and felt horrible when I got home. 14 hours of sleep afterwards made it better, but I’ll just travel during the day next time.

Thanks to Brian, Lindsey, Jason and the entire ShareASale crew for a great time! If you’re not signed up with ShareASale, what the heck are you waiting for? Read what else I have to say about them. And to those other affiliate networks, take a hint and take care of your customers, and they’ll take care of you.

9 Comments » for ShareASale Think Tank 2010 Recap
  1. Great seeing you at the ThinkTank, I was a little too distracted to really get a chance to talk about a few things I wanted to pick your brain about. I’ll have to harass you on Skype sometime!

  2. Awesome recap Nagel and great to see you as always! Keep sending those lists to me and you know I will take care of them always. 🙂

  3. Tricia Meyer says:

    Glad we had some time to hang out toward the end. Even if half of it was spent with me freaking out over my luggage falling out. Think Tank is definitely about relationships more than anything else. And I am happy that ours is growing. 🙂

  4. Char says:

    Eric – Nice wrap up! We did the Red-Eye thing last year and swore we would never do it again. This year we headed back into SF and did some sightseeing then stayed at a hotel minutes from the airport and caught an early morning flight home. It worked out much better.

    Next year I will make sure my golf group uses the 2-putt rule, too. That would have saved us so much time and frustration.

    Glad I got a chance to meet you and talk for a few minutes, too!

  5. Char says:

    And I just saw the picture of you and Jason hanging with the American Girl dolls 😉 You two win Dads of the Year!

  6. And yet no mention of a certain song by you and Todd Farmer? Hmmmm

  7. I am beyond disappointed….LOL

    Glad you had fun and sorry I missed ya’ll out there!

  8. Carleenp says:

    Always good to see another geocacher in the business! I’m planning to attend the 2011 think tank in Chicago. Looking forward to it!

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "ShareASale Think Tank 2010 Recap"
  1. […] check out my friend Eric Nagel’s recap of ThinkTank.  We hung out quite a bit, so instead of writing my entire recap, I will re-live it through him. […]

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