The Expo Hall at RootsTech buzzes with activity every year. This year the Expo Hall had several positive changes and a few tweaks I’d like to see in the future.
Having had a booth in 2018, the Expo Hall and the vendors hold special places in our hearts. The genealogy industry thrives when there are a network of societies, libraries, small business, and giant companies to tailor to our various needs.
My family loves the game I purchased, Roots & Branches, at a conference after I first saw it in action at RootsTech.
We opted out of having a booth which gave us the opportunity to explore the hall as a ‘former exhibitor.’ Our perspective changed dramatically this year due to that moniker.
Bag and Flyers featuring RootsTech Vendors
This year conference bags were sponsored by MyHeritage. Unfortunately, they’re not as well made as the bags from years previous. My kids still use their bags from a few years back.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how long we’ll use these bags. Once you put a bag or set of papers inside, it doesn’t close well.
The bag overflows with literature from vendors who pay for the inserts.
The circle flyer from LifeTimes standouts because of it’s simplicity and it’s out-of-the box size. I liked it so much, I photographed it.
Speaking at MyHeritage’s Booth
This year, Andy and I accepted the honored to present at the MyHeritage booth. The RootsTech brochure in the bag listed a wide variety of topics and presenters. We felt honored to appear on this list.
Whenever you attend RootsTech, make sure you scope out the schedules from the conference bags for demos that will take place in the Expo Hall.
While waiting for my session, folks kept asking me to provide assistance with MyHeritage products and services. Since I know booth babe, Macy and a few other staffers, I handed people off to the right person.
Cool Opportunities for Us to Interview Vendors
Andy and I interviewed a few vendors on Wednesday before the Expo Hall became a mad house. If you missed them, check them out:
Positive Happenings in the Expo Hall
The vendors in the RootstTech had a number of fun activities. I missed the RootsTech photo booth, but this activity was fun and the young men were rocking the old clothes!
I personally liked all the fun things to buy. I had to limit my expenses, but there were so many cool things to lighten my wallet for me.
Dan Earl providing Exposure to Vendors
So Dan Earl, known as @Fam_History_Guy, worked the Expo Hall asking vendors that caught his attention to give a 30-second elevator pitch about their products and services. He did such a great job, I created a playlist (of sorts) on Twitter for your to see his videos. If you missed those videos, click here!
I’d really like to see more Ambassadors providing positive exposure to the small business in the Expo Hall. I discovered a few videos that toured the Expo Hall.
If I missed anyone else working on the floor, let me know.
The DNA Basics Mini-Classes
RootsTech invited DNA lecturers to share mini-sessions in the Expo Hall if they did not directly work for a DNA testing company. Andy agreed to participate and offered his fun explanation of how DNA recombines and why ethnicity might disappear in successive generations.
The Media Hub Moved
As a former vendor, the Media Hub placement in the main expo hall has always felt wrong. For paying vendors, that’s prime real estate. Thus, I’ve felt as an Ambassador and former exhibitor the media hub should move. This year the Media Hub was moved to the far left corner when you enter the main doors (see map).
One of the advantages of this placement might have been unintentional. The hub was near food and the bathrooms. The proximity to the restrooms allowed for quick access between interviews for myself and others. Additionally, I could invite folks to meet me at the Media Hub before we grabbed lunch, which was situated close by.
Thank you for moving the Media Hub! I hope this will continue!!!
What I’d like to see improved in the RootsTech Expo Hall
The foot traffic felt so much lighter this year, compared to years past. My theory involves the 2,000 person drop in attendance coupled with the hike to the new room locations.
Last year, the foot traffic in the main hall seemed higher, primarily because folks had given up on the long lines to attend classes. Attendees wandered the vendor aisles yet the didn’t seem happy. The looked disgruntled and few wanted to visit vendors in this state of mind.
The attendees in 2019 seemed happier with the elimination of badge scanning and larger classrooms. However, the Expo Hall, in some places feel less active. What’s the balance? Is perception reality? Who knows?
No One Makes Baby Face the Wall
Okay, that’s a bad play on words from Dirty Dancing where Patrick Swayze’s character says no one puts Baby in the corner. In the Expo Hall, isle 100 faced a blank wall. Blank walls provide speed zones for those trying to short circuit the vendors. They also rarely attract booths to that area.
In the future, I would like RootsTech to place booths along this wall or have speaker’s meet & greet tables like I see at Comic Cons.
Spread Out The Sponsors
When you go to the grocery store, where do you find the milk and eggs?
In the back. Why?
Because you’re forced to pass all the other items in the store which might magically hop into your shopping basket.
In shopping malls, where are Macy’s, Dillard’s, Sear’s, J C Penneys, and Lord & Taylor?
They’re not side by side, that’s for certain. Why?
Because these shops are anchor stores. Shoppers will pass by smaller shops to access the big name stores while strolling the mall.
Given these two well established marketing principles, I beg RootsTech to spread out the major sponsors for the event.
In so doing, two things will happen. First, the demo theaters in the larger booths won’t compete creating decibel fatigue.
In Sponsor Row, each booth had mini-sessions. Ancestry had two! Being hearing impaired, the multiple sessions at the same time in the same space really strains my ears. I couldn’t attend the Ancestry sessions because having two sessions at the same time creates sound-overlap that I can’t tolerate. Additionally, neither demo could turn up the volume loud enough for me to understand. (For those of you with good hearing, you’re fortunate if this isn’t a challenge.)
Furthermore, I believe I heard Living DNA / Find My Past’s presentations while standing at FamilySearch. That’s too loud and very distracting.
If RootsTech would follow the model from other industry trade shows and spread around the sponsors, the Expo Hall would remain loud but the loud booths wouldn’t overlap each other.
The second advantage is more foot traffic throughout the Expo Hall rather than a high concentration at the front. Smaller exhibitors will gain exposure as attendees walk past their booth on their way to another.
Engineering trade shows have discovered this fact. Bolt suppliers do not draw big crowds. However, when their booths are situated near GE or Siemens, they do better because folks pass them on the way to the big names.
If RootsTech is unwilling to distribute the sponsor booths around the Expo Hall, then the booth rates should be allocated based on the foot traffic. The rows further back in the Expo Hall or near the discovery zones are significantly lower than in the front of the main hall. Booth rates should reflect that reality.
My Personal Highlight From the Expo Hall
As many of you may know, I migrated to WordPress from Blogger during Christmas break. The transfer has tried my patience and perseverance. To those who have stuck with us as the blog has been slow and inaccessible at times, I thank you.
My one goal during my free time in the Expo Hall involved finding WordPress person to diagnose my problem and point me to a resolution.
The folks at WordPress eagerly wanted to help. They knew who I should talk to and worked diligently to connect us.
Once I was connected with the staffer from Tucson, Arizona (I should have gotten his card. I thought I’d remember his name but I didn’t. *** Initiating kicking myself right now. ***), my challenges began to unfold and things didn’t look pretty.
Sadly, I had interviews after our initial visit on Friday afternoon, but we agreed to meet on Saturday morning to continue the troubleshooting.
The long and short of the story involves shopping for a new web hosting company in the near future. I learned so much that my friend Laura Hedgecock, from GeneabloggerTribe, asked me to write a “What Not To Do When Transfering a Blog to WordPress Article.” I’ll likely do write that post, once I finally resolve the remaining of the issues.
However, the good news is that many of the problematic issues have been resolved to 75%. I could not have accomplished those tasks without WordPress’s direct help.
The RootsTech Expo Hall remains a hive of activity between and during classes. Make plans to explore the Expo Hall and check out the fun activities, new-to-you businesses, and do a little shopping.