Surviving RootsTech: Once it opens



I know that this is a bit far in advance, but better to get this down while the memory is fresh in my mind.  In previous RootsTech blog posts, we’ve covered how great it is.  And we’ve covered issues of cost of travel.  We’ve also covered how to get the most done at the FHL by planning.

Today the topic is how to get the most out of courses and the Expo Hall.

Getting off to a good start means

  1. Getting your online registration done early – usually in the September to October range;
  2. Getting through the ONSITE registration early;
  3. Understanding the Salt Palace;
  4. Planning your schedule;
  5. Understanding what you get and won’t get in the ed sessions
  6. What about food? – and –
  7. How to work the expo floor


ONLINE Registration

Cardinal rule for going to any big event like RootsTech, or even the Ohio Genealogical Society’s Annual Conference is early registration.  First, getting in early means you get the EARLY BIRD discounts.  Conferences want you to commit, and commit early.  Get’s it out of the way and it helps them get early $$$$ for their expenses, plus it helps them gauge the potential turn out.  So get it done early and save some money.

Getting to ONSITE Registration Early

Once you have made it to Salt Lake City – you want to check to see when the REGISTRATION booths open in the Salt Palace Convention Center.  This is the place that you pick up your “credentials” as a paying attendee.  Your need to wear this credential to get into the EXPO Hall, and in to any RootsTech event.  If you get to Salt Lake on Wednesday, get the credentials as soon as you can.  If you can’t get to the convention center until Thursday, be there when the doors open.  I am not kidding.  Wait any longer and you will be dreadfully sorry.  The lines move, but the lines will be very, very, very long.  And long lines, standing and waiting on concrete, even in the most comfortable shoes is always uncomfortable.   You have been warned.

Understanding the Salt Palace

Simply put, the Salt Palace is a multi level, modern, convention facility and it is enormous.  There are two main levels, the ground level which has access from the south and along South Temple, and the street level, which has access from the north and along the South Temple.  There is a gentle rise that kind of cuts the building in two.  If you are staying at the Hilton, then the South entrance is closer.  If you are staying at the Radisson or the Marriot, then the mid point doors and north entrances are closer.  Most of the ed sessions will be on either of these levels.  HOWEVER they also use a place called “Room 255” which is in the building, but its a hike. The hike is well marked, but be aware that a class in 255 (which can be subdivided into any number of rooms, is a walk that will help you get to 10,000 steps.

Planning your schedule

When we get closer to RootsTech, the RootsTech folk will release the schedules, telling you the EXPO Hall schedule, class schedules and speakers.  Look through that web posting, which should appear after Thanksgiving but by the first of the year.  Planning means you can prioritize your time.  One hint: Do not over schedule.  If you book you time too tight, you’ll spend more time worrying about what time you got someplace, you’ll watch the clock and you’ll enjoy none of it.

What you will, and will not get in an “ed session”

There are lots of great speakers who will be at RootsTech.  You cannot see them all.  And in most cases, they only have an hour.  RootsTech is not an in-depth institute.  It is designed to give you a topic, material, and some answers to general questions on the matter at hand.  Your ed sessions will give you “Ah-ha!” moments, but if you sign up for a topic that particularly difficult – let’s say Jewish Genelaogy – you are not going to any real in-depth, one on one help from a speaker who has 100-200 people in a room.  So you are going to learn, what is new, what to watch for, what you need to be reminded of, learn about some new tools, etc.   If you need in-depth help, once we get closer to the live date, you can sign up for an appointment with a one on one coaching session on your general topic.  RootsTech is the best way that you can get the broadest exposure to a variety of topics with nationally known speakers.

What about food?

There is food available on site.  When you get your registration packet, you will have an option of attending Luncheons tied to special events.  These luncheons serve a preset meal served by cater waiters, which can be of the Chicken or Beef, California Medley or Green Beans, Rice pilaf or roasted potatoes, and cake or pie.  YOUR OTHER ONSITE OPTION is to eat what the onsite vendors are selling at the back of the EXPO hall, for a nominal charge.  You get a bit more flexibility this way.  OR you can patronize the “fair food” people in the corridors.  So you have options, you’ll need to eat, don’t panic.  It’s not haute cuisine, but you won’t starve, either.

And that leaves us with the Expo Floor, which I will save for the final post in this series next week.  Knowing how to effectively work an Expo Hall, will help you get through everything, and “BUDGET” both your time and money so you get the most out of your time there.















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