When one thinks of Oktoberfest, images of huge beer tents, polka bands, sauerkraut and traditional German costumes immediately come to mind. And for entrepreneurs who earn their living from the online adult biz, another thing to associate with Oktoberfest is the Oktoberfest Gathering — a gathering of adult industry professionals that takes place every year during Oktoberfest in Munich.
The event has been going on since 2003, when Munich-based adult Internet veteran Benny Bayr invited Ed Kunkel of SexSearch and two of Kunkel’s friends to join him at Oktoberfest. Bayr and Kunkel had been hanging out at the Webmaster Access Show in Amsterdam, and together, they traveled from Amsterdam to Munich for Oktoberfest.
[T]here is no other event in this industry by which you will sit with major players of the industry on one beer tent for hours while dancing and chanting Bavarian songs.
“Ed was so overwhelmed by the atmosphere, tasty beer, people, food, rollercoasters and constant singing that we figured it would be a fantastic idea to share these experiences with others,” Bayr recalls. “We agreed to establish an annual event, and Mike Strouse — my partner from MayorsMoney at the time — became another big supporter of the event. Starting in 2004, we set up a professional event site and started to sell off sponsorship packages to fund marketing the event.”
The Oktoberfest Gathering has grown considerably since then. Bayr explained: “Back in 2003, we were just four friends having fun. In 2004, we welcomed about 30 people in Munich, and the years after that, we hit the full capacity of about 80-90 people per event. Due to the gigantic size of the Oktoberfest, we are dealing with limited capacity once it comes down to beer tent seating or available hotel rooms. It’s almost impossible to reserve tables for more than 30 people in different beer tents even though you are a returning client. It helps being from Munich to get granted special treatment.”
The Oktoberfest Gathering 2011 is one of no less than four adult industry events that are taking place back-to-back in Europe in September. The first will be Webmaster Access Europe in Amsterdam from Sept. 16-19, followed by the European Summit in Prague, Czech Republic from September 20-23 and XBIZ EU in London from Sept. 23-25; the Oktoberfest Gathering will take place from Sept. 25-27. At the Oktoberfest Gathering, there will be beer tent events for SexSearch on Sunday, Sept. 25, Epoch on Monday, Sept. 26 and XBIZ EU on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Some adult industry professionals are planning to attend the Oktoberfest Gathering right after attending XBIZ EU, and the Oktoberfest Gathering’s organizers are offering airport limousine pickup service for attendees flying into Munich from London.
High-speed train travel is also an option; one can take the Eurostar from London’s St. Pancras Station to Paris or Brussels and connect with Germany-bound trains in either of those cities (there are presently no direct trains from London to Germany, although Deutsche Bahn is planning a direct London-Frankfurt line for 2013-2014). Bayr stressed that if one does opt for train travel from London to Munich, it is important to make reservations well in advance.
“Experience has proven that the majority will be arriving [at the Oktoberfest Gathering] by plane,” Bayr noted. “However, in recent years, the number of people who are traveling by train has definitely increased. Traveling by train is a nice way to travel through Europe. That way, you get to see the wonderful countryside. Just make certain to secure your seat reservation ahead of time. Without a seat assignment, you run the risk of standing up for a while if the train has been overbooked.”
Bayr pointed out that American webmasters who attend all four of September’s back-to-back adult industry gatherings in Europe (Webmaster Access Europe, the European Summit, XBIZ EU and the Oktoberfest Gathering) will not only get to see a lot of Europe — they will also enjoy excellent overseas networking opportunities.
“Dealing in our industry, you are automatically confronted with a worldwide audience,” Bayr observed. “Affiliate program owners as well as webmasters need to consider how to cater to international users in regards to content and offering billing solutions. The North American online market has grown at a much faster pace than Europe. Some people might argue that the marketplace in the U.S. and Canada is already saturated, while Europe’s market is still growing.”
In addition to airport pickup, the Oktoberfest Gathering’s organizers are providing hostesses who can assist attendees with admission to the beer tents. “Our hostesses are local models who are born and raised in Munich and are able to convey the Bavarian way of life,” Bayr said. “However, the Oktoberfest itself is drawing you right in. Having entered a beer tent for the first time, you will be consumed by the Bavarian culture.
“You will be surrounded by thousands of happy people, gigantic amounts of excellent beer and food — and there is a reason why the Oktoberfest is called the biggest meat market in the world. Everything is rounded up by constant singing and chanting while dancing on the benches and tables.”
Bayr continued: “Everything is unique about the Oktoberfest. You have to experience it yourself to put it in words. There are too many things to point out. Just entering a beer tent, which provides space for 5,000-9,000 people, is an experience in itself. Every year, 6 million visitors make their way to the largest folk festival in the world. The Oktoberfest in Munich is well known for the quantity of beer drunk as well as the incredible atmosphere created by a large number of huge beer tents and exciting rollercoasters.
“The food is fantastic, and there is no other event in this industry by which you will sit with major players of the industry on one beer tent for hours while dancing and chanting Bavarian songs. Most of your guests become good friends after the show even though they haven’t gotten along before. I guess it’s all about sharing good experiences together.”