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cPanel Conference 2013

Written by Sean Valant

Friday, October 4th, 2013

If you happened to read our blog post about cPanel’s 2012 conference, then you already know that cPanel throws a conference like no other.  This year’s conference was September 30 to October 2 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The meals were top-notch, the exhibition floor was packed with exhibitors and attendees, and the nightly outings and events were all quite memorable (for those who remember them).   Just like we said last year: cPanel does it right!

cpanel_conference13_logo

Everything kicked off with a gathering of attendees in front of the hotel for a New Orleans tradition, a Second Line, which is basically a giant group of folks following a marching brass band.  We were unhampered by the slight rain due to orange cPanel umbrellas having been supplied to the group:

cpanel_umbrellas

While we waited on the dock prior to boarding the boat, Creole Queen, we were treated to several more tunes from the band.  From our vantage point here, you can just barely see the top of the tuba, but trust us the band was there and they were amazing:

creole_queen

As soon as we stepped on board, we headed down to the dining hall where we were treated to some delicious Cajun food:

creole_queen_dining_hall

And the band played on:

creole_queen_band

After dinner, our cruise on the mighty Mississippi river officially began. The view of New Orleans from the water was truly impressive:

new_orleans_skyline

The night concluded with a party at the Masquerade Bar inside of Harrah’s casino. It might be worth noting that at this point in our tale, the actual exhibit floor of the conference had not yet opened:

masquerade

The next morning, we awoke to find a little surprise. Apparently, WHMCS ninjas had deposited their custom product into each of our rooms whilst were we all out the night before. Presenting the WHMCS Complete Hangover Solution: water, Tylenol, stain remover, band-aids, Pepto, Tic-Tacs, and 5-Hour Energy:

whmcs_gift

It was then time for the exhibit floor to officially open.  We spent the day chatting with customers and other industry providers, making new friends and handing out tons of HostGator merch, all from the comfort of our own booth:

hostgator_booth

We had some interesting visitors stop by and see us as well, they took a particular shine to the Snappy dolls:

visitors

Throughout the course of the conference, our displays took many different shapes and forms:

hostgator_merch01

hostgator_merch02

hostgator_merch03

Unlike last night when we floated on a boat, tonight we rode on floats. We were accompanied by a marching band and given a police escort through the streets of New Orleans.  As  you can see in the following image, the floats were stocked with plenty of beads to toss to the revelers on the streets:

parade

We ultimately arrived at the venue and were treated to a high energy set by New Orleans’s own Bag of Donuts, who play an impressive mix of music from the 50’s up through current hits.  We will say it here for posterity: that singer plays a mean cowbell!

bag_of_donuts

We had certainly come to expect the unexpected, as interesting characters seemed to appear out of the woodwork in New Orleans, but we had never quite encountered the likes of this individual, who prowled about the venue all night:

neworleans_creature

As day two of the conference began, the exhibit floor again had its own surprise cast of characters, including this very tall gentleman:

tall_guy

It was another day of talking with customers and colleagues and handing out copious amount of HostGator t-shirts and plush Snappys.  Once the convention floor wrapped up, we found ourselves at the House of Blues for the closing ceremonies. The food was amazing and the drinks flowed into the night:

house_of_blues

As morning arrived, it was the time to say our goodbyes and call it a wrap on the 2013 cPanel conference.  We then saw this sign, reminding us that we’ll be doing it all again next year, back in the hometown shared by HostGator and cPanel:

cpanel2014

Thanks again to our friends at cPanel! We’ll see you next year!

To see more behind-the-scenes pictures, please visit our Instagram page.

Magic Mondays

Written by Sean Valant

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

The HostGator offices are populated by very diverse and creative individuals.  We have talented artists and musicians and practitioners of virtually every other creative pursuit imaginable.  We’re an interesting bunch, and from time to time our creative interests intersect with our workday.

We’ve been periodically posting videos on our YouTube channel of Bobby, one of our front-line support agents, mystifying and astounding his fellow gators with his own brand of up-close magic; Magic Mondays it has come to be known as.

Our YouTube channel has lots of videos, from the educational to the entertaining.  Help pass the time this Monday and go check it out, maybe even subscribe in order to get the latest video content from us!  In the meantime, we wanted to share the most recent Magic Monday video with you right here:

 

Do you have any requests or suggestions for video content we can create to share with you?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

A HostGator Harlem Shake

Written by Sean Valant

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

We had another blog post that we were planning on posting today, however late last night there was something in the air here at the HostGator Houston office.  There was an undeniable rhythm permeating throughout the building.  Deciding that we should seize the moment, we did the only reasonable thing that we could possibly do: we made a Harlem Shake video.

It’s worth noting that this was created very much in a “flash mob” style; there was no premeditation and no one in the video knew that they were going to be in any video when they arrived at work last night.  All props were gathered from throughout the building and from employees’ cars out in the parking lot.

We sent out a broadcast via out internal IM system, stating a time and place and requesting the presence of anyone within the building who was available to participate.  And this is what happened:

Memoirs of a Gator, part II

Written by Sean Valant

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Please see Part I, right here.  As our story continues, I am now on the chat floor speaking primarily on the phone with Customers, though also taking random chats as well between calls.  Starting to get into the swing of things, but still not completely at ease.  I’ve managed to not break anything or anger anyone, so I figure I’m doing well enough. Many of our Customers are familiar with the feedback@hostgator.com email address, which is directly read by Management and is intended for use any time anyone has any complaints or praise about anything at all related to their HostGator account or the related support they’ve received.  Thus far, I have assisted a few Customers who took the time to email in to let my Supervisor know about the quality of my work.  It’s always nice to have nice things said about you by strangers.

Having never provided technical support to the general public in any capacity before, those first few days were interesting and full of constant learning.  I wanted to do the best I could and maintain HostGator’s stellar level of support, but at the same time I lacked the actual experience which is what ultimately leads to complete confidence.  Time would solve this circumstance, but time takes time.  I can honestly say that working on the chat floor was fast-paced and exciting and there was truly never a dull moment.

I decided to query some veteran Gators on their initial impressions from when they were brand new Hatchlings, fresh out of training.  The consensus seems to be pretty similar to my own experience.  Presenting, in alphabetical order, some initial impressions from my fellow Gators:

Cody (presently a Linux Admin): “When I first started as a Chat Tech, I was kind of overwhelmed by the huge amount of information, but very excited by the huge learning opportunity in front of me.  I did all I could every day,  studied the KnowledgeBase, and life got easier and easier each day.”

Dominic (presently a Sales Representative): “It felt like my first time swimming.  I was scared, splashing around trying to quickly find answers to questions I just learned.  As I was flailing wildly, I held on to whomever was there: Quality Assurance, Level 2 Chat Agents, Supervisors… whoever didn’t mind that I had a deathgrip on their arm”

Kristi (presently a Retention Specialist): “I was so nervous.  Fortunately the resources, tools and overall assistance provided allowed me to quickly grow to where I became much more confident and comfortable working directly with the Customers.”

Russell (presently a Linux Admin): “I felt overwhelmed at first, but the more I worked with customers, the more knowledgeable I became and the easier and more enjoyable the job became to me.”

Zach (presently a Linux Admin): “It was like playing that lightening reaction game: each time you start a new chat it’s panic until the Customer describes the problem… and then you realize that yes, you can actually fix this.”

It seems that almost all of us start out with a certain degree of cold feet, but ultimately we have all risen to other positions within the company and made room for dozens and dozens of new Hatchlings that will follow in our paths. Speaking of new Hatchlings, this is a picture of our Austin Training room on the day this post was written. Behold, the future generation of HostGator, likely presently feeling that initial nervousness of which we’re speaking:

atx_training_room

 

It should truly go without saying that most of our interactions with our Customers are overwhelmingly pleasant, but  anyone providing front-line support will always have an interesting or unusual interaction.  One of the Customers that sticks out for me was an individual who initially took a shine to me and began requesting me each time time they called.  This particular Customer wound up calling up to discuss a myriad of topics, including their recent doctor appointments and on-going health issues.  Another call was to request my assistance in repairing a hardware issue on their home computer.  We have a very soft “scope of support” here at HostGator, but troubleshooting home PCs (or doctor appointment visits) is simply not a service we can really provide, with our apologies.

Before too long, I would be promoted to a position where I no longer actively accepted telephone calls, thus was the end of my interactions with that particular Customer… at least as of this writing, but one never knows.  As for the position to which I was promoted, we will certainly come to that as we further speak on this topic.

Once again, if you have any questions at all about our front-line Agents, or anything at all that has been discussed up to this point, please leave your question in the comments section and I’ll be happy to elaborate.

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