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How to Persuade Me to Attend More Genealogy Conferences

The first time I ever attended a conference I was pleasantly surprised at the wide range of offerings available to genealogists at all levels of expertise.  I had to ask myself why it took me so long to attend.  I  learned a great deal, felt part of a community and was motivated and inspired to tear down those brick walls. That’s why I attend conferences.

However, today I asked myself why I don’t attend more conferences.

Personally, my first problem with most conferences, they are too far removed from me geographically. Because of that geographic distance, a three day event becomes ultra expensive. 

Genealogy conferences are exhilarating and exhausting and they are worth the money. However, I personally can only afford a limited number because of my proximity to the majority of them. Therefore, how do you get me to attend more conferences?

Two ways - Price point and Accessibility

Price Point

One way I think we could address the price point for those on stricter budgets are to have a cafeteria-style selection. You can still put your money down for the entire weekend if you wish, or you can choose what lectures and events you wish to attend and pay for only those. This is an option for those who may only want to pop in and attend one, two or three lectures.

I am currently trying to determine whether I want to attend the Ontario Genealogy conference that is a mere 1-hour drive from me next weekend.  It meets my first criteria; its close, but unfortunately, I can only get in for one afternoon due to other commitments.  Now I have to decide whether I pay the one-day price of $100.00 for a couple of lectures. I believe flexibility to those who do not want to attend an entire weekend will open the door to more attendees, besides being a great way to introduce newcomers to the conference experience.
 
Accessibility

I feel accessibility has to be addressed on two fronts.  The first one, marketing conferences to new family historians.

One thing I find when talking to new genealogists, I often asked if they have attended their first conference. The response is usually  “ I’m not ready for that yet”  “that’s above my level of learning " and  “ I’m not that serious.”

I believe for many there remains a stigma attached to genealogy conferences. Some beginner’s feel that conferences are for the professionals. They imagine they must be stuffy and too serious.  Of course, you and I who have attended conferences know that is not the case.  

I feel Rootstech really helped breakdown some of those boundaries. Through the virtual component and the tweeting, many were able to attend the conference from their home and were able to see the excitement.

I think the NGS got it right when they recently announced they are offering a Genealogy 101 seminar for those who just wanted to pop in for a one day event. Newcomers get a taste without a big commitment. They know the lectures are geared to their level. The Family History Expo also has just recently announced a few one day events in their line-up. You can read more about them here. We need more of this.

Secondly, the accessibility in terms of proximity.

Of course, the virtual conference speaks volumes to me because of the cost of travel. I could personally attend many more conferences via the web if more were available to me.

I definitely believe the virtual aspect to a conference can go a long way to tearing down that stigma to new genealogists. It will offer beginners an opportunity to attend from a distance getting a taste of the excitement and tearing down the barriers that conferences are only for professionals.

I think the mini-conference and virtual conferences are two very viable options.  I think there is a greater market to be explored for those in a lower budget category. If more of these options were available to me I definitely would be there.

 I believe I’m one of those conference goers that genealogy conferences need to address. I attend usually one conference a year. Want me to attend more conferences, want more of my money, make them accessible virtually and make them more affordable and flexible by offering smaller packages for the smaller budget.

This has been a response to a series on Genealogy Conferences from Geneabloggers. Join the discussion, what do think about genealogy conferences? 
#genealogy #familyhistory