Conferences and Seminars, Oh My!

The brilliant Thomas MacEntee of Geneabloggers has encouraged us to write a blog post about genealogy conferences and seminars.

Here is the topic of discussion for today:

How do you decide which ones to attend? How far in advance do you start making plans? What do you look for when you take in a conference? Again, not only can you post about what you’d love to see at a genealogy conference, but let us know your frustrations and what needs to change.

How do you decide which ones to attend? If I had millions of dollars and an entirely free calendar, I would go to every genealogy conference and seminar that I could find.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality.  I can only afford to go to Southern California Genealogy Society’s Jamboree, since it is so close to home.  Since I went for the first time in 2009, I’ve been hooked.

How far in advance do you start making plans? I’ve decided I will go to Jamboree every year just because it is that awesome of a conference.  So generally, I start making plans for how I’m going to afford the registration, a place to stay, and food money months in advance.  This year, I have saved enough to stay in the Marriott and I am so excited to be staying in the center of the excitement.

What do you look for when you take in a conference?  I’m all about the people at the conference.  To me, Jamboree isn’t just a learning event, but it is like a family reunion.  I love seeing and meeting all the people I’ve been talking to online.  These are my people.  These people are my family.

Secondly, I look to the classes.  This year, I think I’m going to focus on classes about immigrant ancestors (I will get over my fear!), The Genealogical Proof Standard, and creatively breaking down brick walls.  I tend to get a lot of inspiration and “light bulb moments” at conferences or seminars.

What would you love to see at a genealogy conference: While I was not at RootsTech this year, I did see the pictures of the exhibit hall.  It looked amazing.  So many new tech toys to play around with.  I think massages would also be much-loved at conferences (particularly foot massages – by the third day you’re exhausted!).

Ok – honestly, I would just like to see more technology at these conferences.  Jamboree does a great job of this by including lots of classes on technology.

What are your frustrations and what needs to change? My biggest frustration is the high hotel fees.  I always grew up staying in cheap Motel 6s and once in a while, a Best Western.  The Burbank Marriott, where Jamboree is held, is beautiful.  But $159/night for the conference price is way high for my preferences.  Will I pay it?  Of course!  The Marriott is the most convenient and it is the center of the fun.  To me, the price is definitely worth it.

I live on my laptop and the internet.  A good Wi-Fi connection and plenty of electrical outlets are a must.

Since I am in the middle of studying for finals, I am desperately waiting for the fun of Jamboree.  Only 35 more days until it starts…!  Don’t forget to stay tuned for the news about a pajama party… did you honestly think I forgot about that suggestion I made last year?

Disclosures: First off, I think Paula Hinkle and Leo Myers, the conference planners for Jamboree, are the most awesome people on the planet.  They work HARD to make Jamboree as awesome as it is.  Secondly, I was a speaker for Jamboree last year and I will be on the Blogger’s panel again this year.  Thirdly, I’ve spoken at the Southern California Genealogy Society’s Lunch ‘n Learn program (for which I was paid for) and I had a blast.  The attendees were attentive, asked great questions, made fantastic comments, and Charlotte Bocage (the education coordinator) is the biggest sweetheart who gave me a “speaker’s goodie bag” with tissues and water.  She takes care of her speakers and attendees.  She is awesome.  Everyone at the Southern California Genealogy Society is awesome.  Attend Jamboree for yourself and you’ll understand why.

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4 responses to “Conferences and Seminars, Oh My!

  1. I’ll be looking forward to your posts on Jamboree. I had planned on going but a family obligation came up.
    Michelle Goodrum´s last blog post ..Water Break – Wordless Wednesday

  2. I agree that accommodation prices are a huge factor. For the Australasian Congress in Adelaide in 2012, a friend and I have booked a 2-bedroom apartment just across the street from the venue. Not cheap, but bearable because I can claim it as a tax deduction! Of the 10 major conferences (4-day-or-more) that I’ve attended, 6 were at universities, colleges or private boarding schools, and most of the lecture rooms were thus very well equipped. The same applied for some 2-day conferences. Another advantage of holding a conference at such a venue during students’ holidays is that delegates can stay in very affordable student bedrooms, and cafeteria-style meals (provided in the student dining hall) are a great opportunity to mix and mingle. (I am still writing my blog post about attending conferences. Watch for it to appear at Genealogy Leftovers soon… following on from my comments on being a speaker and a vendor.)
    Judy Webster´s last blog post ..Genealogy Conference Vendors

  3. Since Jamboree is on the other side of the country from me, it will probably be quite a while before I can ever attend. So I’m counting on you and the others to provide some good coverage! I know you’ll have a great time.
    Greta Koehl´s last blog post ..Follow Friday Newsletter- 6 May 2011

  4. Elyse, I’ve mentioned your post in ‘Attending Genealogy Conferences‘ on my Genealogy Leftovers blog.
    Judy Webster´s last blog post ..No2 genealogy worldwide

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