Roots Tech: The Expo Hall

1967 car show – back when manufacturers made something other than SUV’s and sedans.  I’ll take that 1967 Country Squire….


So this is my last in a series of posts on how to make RootsTech work for you.  And today, the topic is how to work the expo hall, which is my favorite part of any Conference.

If you have ever been to a car show, where all the manufacturers roll out their new cars, then you have been to an expo hall.  At RootsTech, its genealogy vendors and service providers that buy the booth space, set up shop and want to talk to you.

They want to talk to you because they want your business.  And you want to talk to them because 1) It’s a chance to see what they are offering, and 2) You may need a product like this now, or in the future.

The expo hall has hours of operation, and you need to set time aside to walk the floor.  Time spent in the expo hall counts as education in my book.  And its a lesson in resources.

The Salt Palace’s hall was set up a giant backwards L shape.  You enter through the lower leg, and can work your way to the upper shank – but there is something about that upper shank that you need to know: At the very top are the meal providers and the tables for eating. If you are on site and get hungry, that upper area is the closest to real food, on site, that you come to if you are NOT programmed for an event meal.   I am telling you that up front because if you stumble upon that area at the noon hour, the lines are long and slow. Get there either before the rush or after the rush.

So lets go to the overall layout.  Generally, in any trade show or EXPO floor, the big sponsors with deep pockets get the prime real estate.  That means upfront, showy booths.  At this year’s show the big five were FamilySearch, which hosts the event, Ancestry, My Heritage, Find My Past and FOREVER.

As you work your way back, and then up the spine of the “L” shaped room, the vendors booths get more intimate in size, from small house size up front to 10×10 size.

This year, the area along the left wall was reserved for Innovators.  These booths represent emerging technologies and products.  Its fun to walk down the area and see what is being developed and for which markets.

The main area also reserves a sizable area for media, which is roped off, and its some place you want to be, but you cannot get into it if you are not carrying the proper credentials.

There is also a large area given over to the one on one sessions you can sign up for with people who might be able to help you break through a brick wall, or look at a research issue.  I signed up with a Jewish genealogy expert who helped me better understand information I was missing when reading the Ellis Island paperwork for my grandparents.   You’ll reserve this time after Thanksgiving through the RootsTech web site.  It is available on a first come, first serve basis.

Off to the far side of the “Spine” of the backwards “L” is a stage for product presentations.  RootsTech is one of the few conferences that doesn’t let its speakers turn their sessions into overt sales presentations.  There are presentations that will tell you how a site works, but there are no hard sell presentations.  So many of the vendors can opt to Demo their products in the stage area, which also comes with comfy seating.

Once last thing, the size of a booth doesn’t correlate to the quality of the product being offered.  There were some amazing people with great products in the area opposite the expo hall stage.  A big booth is a big booth, but remember, look at the quality of the product.

MY SUGGESTION for make the expo hall work for you is to walk through it when it isn’t busy, see who is there, make some mental notes, and then go back later.  Obviously, the hall is a total zoo during the lunch hour.  Mornings are always best, in my opinion.

EXPO BONUS!  It isn’t uncommon for a vendor may choose to run a special during the show – remember, they believe that their products are the best able to help you.  So they will special price their products.  This year the BIG deal was Ancestry DNA kits at 50%, limit five.   And yes, they take credit cards.

I loved my time on the floor, and I loved meeting with all of the vendors.

When you are one the floor, you want to watch your spending.  Yes, $50 here and $100, all start to add up.  But this is why I tell people to walk the floor first, get the lay of the land, then go back.  My example is the Epson printer I wrote about last week.  Had I bought it from the Epson rep, I would have paid full price.  But by waiting and buy it from MicroCenter, I saved a good deal of money.

Now, remember, the previous pieces in this series are:

Budgeting for RootsTech

Making the FHL Work for You

RootsTech Once it Opens

RootsTech, The best event that you are missing, and that isn’t good