Two big upcoming conferences are taking place in India; DomainX in August, and ICANN in November. I have been to India twice now, with my most recent trip being August, 2015, for DomainX. I plan on going for my third trip this August, for DomainX 2016. Here are five observations/tips about traveling to India for a domain name conference:
1. The Next Billion People on the Internet to Come from India
According to former ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehade, with the next billion people on the Internet likely to come from India, the country has the power to shape the future of the Internet. “India is central to what the Internet is at the global level... India is not simply getting into the digital world. The country is already an incumbent, a driver in the digital world in every sense of the word”, Mr. Chehadé said speaking at an event in India in March, 2015. As I wrote and explained in my previous Blog post, all the evidence points towards India becoming the leading Internet powerhouse as a result of its highly educated, English speaking, young, dynamic, and massive workforce. If your business has the potential to expand into the Indian market, there is no better place to start than visiting India yourself. The .in market is showing a lot of promise and there is substantial growth in the number of Indian domain investors in many extensions. It could be "the next China" in terms of the huge potential demand for domain names amongst a population of 1.3 billion people who are only now getting online. Currently only about 20% of India's populace is online, and it is increasing by about 14% per year.
2. Use Your Points from Buying Thousands of Domain Names on Your Credit Card
You probably have a ton of points saved up from buying thousands of domain names on your credit cards, so it may be time to burn them on some flashy flights. Aside from India's national carrier, Air India, and its other major airline, Jet Airways, two of the world's greatest airlines fly to India; Emirates and Etihad. Both Emirates and Etihad a380 aircraft feature showers in their first class cabins, and there are even bars in business class, and both are available via points redemptions. I had the time of my life flying on Emirates on my first trip to India. For more information about redeeming your points for flights, you can read a blog called, One Mile at a Time.
3. Take a Tour of India and see the Taj Mahal
If you are going to India on business, tag on a tour to see some of India. DomainX 2016 will be held in Delhi, and ICANN will be held in Hyderabad. Delhi is a major hub for Internet businesses, as is Hyderabad, which has earned the Moniker, "Cyberbad". Hyderabad was the location of the first DomainX conference, in 2014.
Both cities have a lot to offer in terms of sightseeing. In Delhi you can visit the old Delhi market, the Indian parliament buildings, and Humayun's Tomb - all impressive sights worth seeing. But a few hours' drive from Delhi, you can see a true Wonder of the World - The Taj Mahal. Now, I live near Niagara Falls, and to be honest, it has nothing on the Taj Mahal. It is simply mind-blowing in terms of its architecture and what was involved in building it. DomainX will be taking some attendees on a tour of the Taj Mahal on August 6, 2016, but you can also go on your own, and it is a relatively short drive away on a new highway. In Hyderabad, it is worth visiting the Taj Faluknuma hotel, which is one of the great hotels of the world. It used to be a palace owned by the richest man on earth. He kept a diamond so big that he used it as a doorstop.
But aside from these two great cities and Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located, also take the time to visit some wonderful places like Udaipur, Rajasthan, Kerala, Mumbai, and the other many incredible places throughout India. Udaipur is where part of Octopussy was filmed - at the Taj Lake Palace hotel - as you may recall from the below picture.
4. Enjoy the Indian Food with New Indian Friends
When networking at DomainX or ICANN, be sure to make some new friends who can show you some genuine Indian cuisine at local favorites. At DomainX 2015, I met one fellow who put me on to my all time favorite restaurant, Punjabi By Nature, which despite the somewhat odd name, featured incredible north Indian cuisine, such as marinated and grilled leg of mutton. Wherever you go, you will see "Thalis" on offer, which are set dinners of various dishes, available in vegetarian and non-veg, such as the one depicted below:
5. Learn About Indian History
Before you go, take some time to research the amazing history of India through documentaries and books. The most fascinating documentary on the subject that I saw, was Michael Wood's "The Story of India". Nobody does documentaries like the BBC. Also, go back and watch the Gandhi movie with Ben Kingsley, which is extraordinarily well done, and will mean a lot more to you once you visit India for yourself.