Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Reflections on RootsTech London 2019

It's been a few weeks since I've returned from London.....so here's a few reflections on the first RootsTech to be held outside of Salt Lake City.

As usual, you come away from the 3 days absolutely jazzed, ready to research away, put all your new learnings to use, etc......then real life gets in the way!  If only we could stay in this RootsTech euphoria bubble for a week or so and utilize all the new learnings while they're fresh in our minds! This is why I try and take good notes, so I can refresh my memory. I now need to download the presentations/handouts off the app, so they will jog my memory as well.  (And I wish this process was simpler, I am having difficulty getting any of the handouts to email off the app).

One thing I noted was that the London crowd seemed to be experienced genealogists (intermediate to advanced). There weren't nearly the amount of beginners that you see in Salt Lake City. I suppose the pricing, venue, and 3 day nature attracted the more serious genealogists, and not just the curious who drop in at other Family History events to collect leaflets and have a wander around.

After attending every RootsTech in Salt Lake City for the past 9 years, I knew what to expect, and was pleasantly surprised that the London event closely followed the Salt Lake City format. A few things I'd change though:

  • Make classes an hour long. 45 minutes was too short and there wasn't enough time for Q & A. Many presenters were clearly trying to condense an hour long presentation, and racing through or skipping slides altogether
  • Expand the Vendor Hall - the SLC Vendor Hall is massive and there is room to spread out. The space at Excel seemed too small, not enough computer stations for researchers, and the demo theatre spaces were too small. Also there was a distinct lack of local Family History societies and some of the other smaller archives.
  • Food offerings - I know this was probably a restriction with Excel Centre, but the limited food offerings (especially on Days 2-3) was disappointing. The vendors also seemed overwhelmed, struggled to cope with the crowds and the food options were limited.
Generally at SLC, the vendors make a big splash of releasing new record sets, demonstrating new beta tools, and promoting DNA sales.  I didn't see much of this, just the usual show specials at booths, which may or may not compete with the "Black Friday" November sales prices.

  • My session with Trace.com in the Coaches Corner was excellent. I had submitted a case around my Father's Y-DNA results, and needed help with his matches and next steps to take his ancestry back further. The "coach" was execellent, she was well prepared, had looked at everything I'd submitted and gave me some really valuable "next step" tips. 
  • My classes were excellent, particularly those with Maurice Gleeson, Brian Donovan and Crista Cowan (who turns out to be my 10th cousin!)
  • Donny Osmond and Dan Snow were fantastic keynotes -- entertaining and insightful
  • Loved the T-shirts and other RootsTech merchandise on offer
Final Thoughts:
  • I brought my Sister with me, who had been away from Genealogy for several years. She came away re-energized about all the new records, tools, and techniques.  She was VERY impressed by RootsTech, as was I.  Great job by the organizers and I hope it returns to London!

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