What we learnt at RootsTech

18 February 2017

This was our second year at RootsTech and so, we (moi and @HistoryLady2013) are possibly a little more ‘qualified’ to comment this year than last. Last year was very much a ‘finding our feet’ mission, with no expectations before we arrived.

I know that since RootsTech has ended, I have already been quoted by @DearMyrtle on her Monday’s with Myrt. She and I discussed comparisons between RootsTech and Who Do You Think You Are? (WDYTYA) Live in the UK. As a volunteer in various organisations from local to national and international, I have first-hand experience of the cost of booking stands at events across the UK. In years gone by, the Society of Genealogists used to organise an annual family history fair at the Royal Horticultural Halls. There were a few lectures during the day but the fair appeared (in my opinion) to be an occasion for societies across the UK to come together and present their offerings to the public. The stands were inexpensive and so, a large number of societies attended.

For the last N years (since the advent of WDYTYA on the television), the annual event moved firstly to Olympia (London) and then to the NEC in Birmingham. Multiply the space by Y and add a factor of Z into the cost of stands…. Guess what? Many of the societies can no longer afford to attend.

How is RootsTech different? The stand costs are Z divided by B (i.e. a darned sight lower)! The number of classes (lectures) and calibre of speakers is a million times greater. I was told by one of the organisers that they received 900 applications to speak at the event and accepted 170. Well, I was super excited to present two of those classes though saddened to see that some classes had to be cancelled as some speakers were unable to honour their commitment to the conference, for whatever reason.

For us – me and @HistoryLady2013 – we take RootsTech as an opportunity. An opportunity to meet up with so many people who we are otherwise only connected with online. Genealogists who are so knowledgeable and always prepared to share their expertise during the conference, either in their classes or personally. The event is not just business but social too and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening event organised by MyHeritage.

What has become very evident to us (me and @HistoryLady2013), in our very differing roles at the conference, is that people who attend RootsTech want to have more classes about/experts in UK records and how to research in the UK (whether in person or from afar). We have both had copious conversations with attendees who want to know ‘how to’. They don’t want a course. There are plenty of those, they know that. They want to speak to a real person and/or hire someone to carry out research. There is clearly something missing from RootsTech and maybe, the Federation of Family History Societies might want to look at attending in the future? The Really Useful leaflet would have been a handy one to have up our sleeves….. to direct interested attendees to relevant Family History Societies back in the UK…..

I will definitely be feeding back to the RootsTech organising team with thoughts for next year. Maybe more UK-based genealogists/exhibitors might want to look into attending in 2018? A coordinated trip?? Honestly, RootsTech is a Win Win!

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