10 Tips for Having a Great Time at RootsTech 2019

10 Tips for RootsTech 2019

One week from today, RootsTech 2019 kicks off at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. As I’m packing my bags, I’m making plans and check it twice in hopes that I’ll have a fantastic experience. Let’s chat out what’s new and how to plan for next week’s event.

If you’re interested, join in the conversation during our livestream on Friday, 22 February on YouTube where we’ll chat about this in more detail. The conversation begins on 3 PM Eastern at this link.

Here are some promises and tips RootsTech promises for this year’s conference

Promise: Reduced Lines

Last year, RootsTech was miserable because of the long lines. Registration took too long. The lines to attend a class were ridiculous. A friend from my local genealogy society said she won’t go back to RootsTech until they fix the line problem. The organizers have promised the lines will be minimized this year. Fingers Crossed

Promise: No Badge Scanning

The only badge scanning will happen for paid lunches or labs. Other than that, woo-hoo, no long lines to enter your classes. Or worse, no leaving a class if you arrived early to come back in.

Tip 1: Remember Your Badge

If you opted to have it mailed to you. If you misplace it, you’ll be charged a $5 replacement fee. When you enter the Salt Palace, you should encounter stations to pick up your lanyard and swag bag!!!

For those who opted to pick up your badge you have to go back to the entrance between 200 and 300 West on the South Temple side of the convention center. Then you’ll have a long hike to the main events of RootsTech, but the trade off should be shorter lines than last year. Fingers crossed!

Tip 2: Plan Your Schedule in Advance

The number one reason folks go to RootsTech is for the classes. You have over 250 sessions to choose from. The Mobile App, which you can download here, can help you plan your schedule, but sometimes the format is hard to visualize. As such, we created a quick guide to help you see the various class tracks. It’s free and mostly up-to-date.

RootsTech 2019 Schedule at a glance
Download the RootsTech Schedule at a Glance.
(Be advised, classes are subject to changing.

Also, pay attention to class size. There is one new classroom that will seat 1,000. That’s a lot of folks and if that overwhelms you, then avoid the Ruby Room.

Tip 3: Skip the Livestream Classes

If you’re traveling to Salt Lake City, avoid every class that is marked as Livestream. Why? Because you can get more bang for your buck by watching the live streamed sessions AFTER you go home from RootsTech. Instead, use this time to attend another class. (Or be like me at visit the Expo Hall!)

Tip 4: Pick the Right Skill Level Class

This year, RootsTech has eliminated the Getting Started Track. HOPEFULLY, folks will pay attention to the skill level listed in the app and on the program from classes.

ANALYZE the class titles, descriptions and skill level before you make a final selection. Don’t take a class too far above or below your skill set.

For instance, my class on Finding Stories in City Directories is geared toward intermediate level researchers. Folks who have moved beyond, “Where do I start?” and are ready for “What do I look at next?” Beginners would do well to avoid the intermediate level classes if they’re just getting started.

Tip 5: Have a Back-up Plan

The popularity of some classes is hard to predict. If you can’t get a seat in your first choice class, be prepared with an alternative class or visit the Expo Hall.

BE ADVISED… Starring a class in the RootsTech app doesn’t guarantee you a spot in that class. SO, be sure to have alternatives.

Tip 6: Dress For The Cold

The Salt Palace is MASSIVE. For someone who is still mending from surgery, comfortable shoes are a NECESSITY. Wear your sneakers because you’ll be walking a ton.

Also bring a sweater. Many rooms are FREEZING! Yet, they’re not so cold you have to leave on your winter coat. Bring a sweater. While you’re at it… if you wear a cardigan, use the hashtags #teamcardiagan and #RootsTech so we can see your conference style.

Wednesday Lunch – water and lunch. But big classes will be going on and eat during the sessions. (That could be messy??) No details about the food

Tip 7: Drink Lots of Water

I can’t say this enough, but drink a ton of water. Salt Lake City might have snow on the ground but it’s still a desert. That means DRY, SORE throats by day two if you don’t start drinking plenty of water now and throughout the week in Utah. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!!

Tip 8: Visit the Expo Hall

The vendors need your support. Having had a booth in the past, we know how hard the exhibitors work. Review the flyers in your RootsTech bag for mini-presentations that will take place at the MyHeritage Booth (Andy and I have sessions), FindMyPast, Amy Johnson Crow, and Lisa Louise Cooke, among others. These mini-sessions are short and sweet and help you learn more about a particular company in a relaxed way.

On Wednesday night, visit the Expo Hall and start with the vendors closest to the Demo Theater. This area generally has less traffic on Wednesday at the beginning, so you’ll be going against the flow and enjoy your experience more.

Tip 9: Try Out the New Early Bird Power Hour

RootsTech is attempting something new this year. For early risers, the 8 am Power Hour will kick off the day with 3 mini-classes during one hour. Each presenter (or combination of presenters) will speak for 15-20 minutes. This doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room for Q&A, so we’ll all have to see what we think of this new strategy.

There’s only one option on Wednesday, but mutliple options on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Fingers crossed that there is no music that night like there was last year, which just made the Expo Hall a migraine trigger from the extra noise level.

Tip 10: Find the Fanatics at RootsTech

We would love to meet you while we’re at RootsTech. Andy and I have 6 classes. Andy’s DNA labs are full, as they are pre-paid events, but you can join us for the following classes:

YouTube and Genealogy: A Visual Library of Learning and Family Bonding
Wednesday 1:30 PM
Room:254 A

How to Magnify Hidden Stories in City Directories
Thursday 4:30 PM
Room:254 A

We’ll also have 2 mini-classes at the MyHeritage Booth #805

MyHeritage Triangulation
Friday 5:30 PM

Using MyHeritage to Find Your Ancestor’s Stories
Saturday 12:00 PM

Beginning on Thursday, you’ll likely find us in the Media Hub in the Expo Hall, unless we’re teaching. I have recovered 85% from my bone reconstruction surgery in October, but I’m not able to get around as much as I’d like. Thus, I’ll be interviewing or editing video in the Media Hub. I’ll stop editing to chat with a fan. So, make a pit stop beginning on Thursday.

Pre-Conference Viewing Binge

If you’re like me, you can’t wait for the conference. So review the past with the following videos as you get ready for the genealogy madness known as RootsTech.

Filmed in 2017, but the principles still hold true.
This video is one in a series of videos from 2018.

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

6 thoughts on “10 Tips for Having a Great Time at RootsTech 2019

  1. #11: Always have a second class picked out in each time slot. Last year I wasn’t able to attend at least 3 sessions because they filled too quickly! But luckily I had a game plan and went to my backup sessions. Once I skipped all sessions in that time slot and had a glorious time walking through the Exhibit Hall, where I met you and Andy and some other fine folks.

  2. These are GREAT ideas! I would add that in the exhibition hall there is a vip section. I walked by several times and saw genea-famous people. Also walk the smaller company aisles, there are some that can be really helpful in your research. For classes, I printed out the handouts before I went. I may be old-school, but I like to add notes. I agree to have a back up class or two. Don’t worry if you don’t get in your #1. Some of the back up classes I went to were my favorites. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Jacquie. The VIP section is possibly the Media Hub. That’s likely where I’ll spend much of my time interviewing folks for the YouTube channel. Downloading the handouts in advance is so important. I often judge a class by it’s handouts and can quickly see sometimes the class description doesn’t match what I had hoped to get out of the class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *