Volcanic Ash Cloud has Silver Lining for Entrepreneurs and BusinessesForSale.com

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The expulsion of a huge cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano has disrupted many people’s lives, but some businesses and individuals have exploited it for commercial gain. The website BusinessesForSale.com has seen one some unusual businesses in its time, but the person who has bought the domain name http://www.volcanic-ash-cloud.co.uk is certainly one of the most well timed businesses for sale they have seen.

The expulsion of a huge cloud of ash from an Icelandic volcano has disrupted many people’s lives, but some businesses and individuals have exploited it for commercial gain.

For some this just meant capitalising on people’s misery, like the car hire firm which charged a family £3,000 for a car to take them from Seville to Calais, but others have been more imaginative.

In a yearly run down of unusual business opportunities BusinessesForSale.com usually has oddities like Football Clubs and Airborne restaurants for sale.

This year one canny individual has bought the domain name http://www.volcanic-ash-cloud.co.uk and has put it up for sale as a business on BusinessesForSale.com to capitalise on the high volume of web users searching for news and information on the volcanic eruptions.

The web portal http://www.volcanic-ash-cloud.co.uk contains links to various other sites – some volcano-related, some not – from which the site operator presumably obtains advertising fees. The domain owner would have been able to command reasonable fees from advertisers simply by dint of having such a significant search phrase in the web address (or URL).

The domain owner has put the site up for sale on http://www.BusinessesForSale.com, and will surely hope to make a quick sale before the volcano stops billowing smoke into the atmosphere, and the public interest in the story drops off the radar.

Jeremy Mandell, head of marketing at online media group Dynamis, which run BusinessesForSale.com, believes even a modest price would represent an adequate return.

“The set-up for the site, which is simply a single web page with a list of outbound links, would have been very quick, easy and cheap. Registering a domain name is fairly cheap, while ongoing maintenance and overheads are negligible, which is also reassuring to any prospective buyer. Even if the sale price was very low, it’s still been a quick profit for the domain owner.”

Mandell also believes it’s a low-risk proposition to the buyer.

“There’s no certainty as to when the volcano might cease belching out smoke, but legal experts have suggested that those individuals and businesses which lost out from the crisis could conceivably sue the authorities responsible for closing the skies, the MET office and the National Air Traffic Control Service. So this story could run for some time yet – but even if it doesn’t, the new owner will barely have to sink any money into the venture.”

The Eyjafjallajoekull volcano left thousands of disconsolate Brits unable to reach their holiday destinations and left 150,000 Britons stranded abroad. But there are great revenue-generating opportunities for many industries.

It’s been a godsend to the ferry companies, and an absolute goldmine to taxi and hire car companies, with stories of £3,000 taxi rides prompting accusations of profiteering.

Meanwhile, the disruption to business travel has presented great PR opportunities to manufacturers of remote communication technologies such as video conferencing, with emails popping up in inboxes this morning reminding employees that ‘online meetings keep businesses running’.

Jeremy Mandell believes that the volcano story was a canny choice of story to name a domain after.

“The volcano story ticks a number of boxes as far as turning it into a domain name is concerned. First, there is absolutely no danger of breaking intellectual property laws. Second, it’s a huge story, so big it’s been knocking the most exciting election campaign for decades off many front pages.

“And third, it’s a rare thing for seismic natural events: it’s caused a huge amount of disruption and media coverage, but unlike the vast majority of volcano, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like, it’s caused zero casualties. Otherwise it would be extraordinarily crass to make money out of it.”

1.    BusinessesForSale.com has been established since 1998 and is published by Dynamis plc. The site features over 50,000 business opportunities in more than 130 countries.
2.    Dynamis (http://www.dynamis.co.uk) was founded in 1995 and is a privately owned company based in London, UK.
3.    The company publishes BusinessesForSale.com – a website connecting business buyers and sellers, FranchiseSales.com – a directory of franchise opportunities, BusinessWings.co.uk –a resource for anyone thinking of starting or going into business, BusinessOpportunities.com – the online business opportunities marketplace, MidMarketExchange.co.uk and the Mid Market Exchange magazine – a directory of M&A business opportunities.

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Jeremy Mandell
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