Foot Traffic Generating Plans – First Time RootsTech Vendor Perspective (Part 2)

As stated in the previous post, we had a booth at RootsTech in what we nicknamed “Newbie Land,” and needed to attract attention so we could have a successful show. What were those plans? Did you notice any of them prior to RootsTech?


In the summer of 2017, I learned that I could join the Genealogy Business Alliance (GBA).  It is primarily a Facebook group focused on ways to improve the vendor experiences for businesses at conventions. Apparently, vendors had a terrible experience at recent national conferences, and a few of them banded together to initiate changes. I instantly connected with a few women who have become mentors, at least in my mind, for our business.

At RootsTech 2017, GBA pooled their resources and created a  giveaway that was designed to increase foot traffic to smaller vendors throughout the expo hall. Larger companies supported the initiative because when the industry does well as a whole, their business grows in tandem.

GBA wanted to have a similar giveaway but faced two problems.  First, the labor involved in processing handwritten names and emails from sign up lists and the various booths. Not only does this require 10+ of work, but few people write clearly, and a list of 1,000+ names can have a 10% transcription error rate. Was there away individuals could type in their names and emails and reduce this input challenge?

Secondly, the vendors could not create anything that looked like the passport card. A passport card has a list of booths you must visit and receive a stamp or signature from each to enter the drawing. RootsTech has a passport program for their sponsors, and they do not want anything that looks like that initiative to take place on the vendor floor.  (FYI: BYU had a similar program, but it was complimentary to all vendors. That was so nice and did increase my booth traffic.)

Use Tech!

The hunt for a solution began. Members of the GBA committee mentioned QR code scavenger hunt that many non-genealogy conferences used in their vendor halls. Players wove their way through the expo halls answering questions about each vendor and earning points. Once a player acquired all of the points, they had the chance to win a grand prize. Along the way, they could receive instant coupons to use at the booths. Since RootsTech is a tech conference, we could add a vendor game that used smartphones and tablets.

A Scavenger Hunt on your Phone!

Unfortunately, the companies that offered such games carried a hefty price tag. Janet Hovorka’s son had app design experience and set to work creating the GBA.BUZZ game. I set to work creating promotional materials, press releases, an audio clip for the Genealogy Gems podcast and a YouTube video on how to play the game. Amber at Legacy Tree Genealogists was a great help with my ideas and helping to fine-tune everything. Brett Weiss at Photos, Movies, and More printed the cards that would go inside the conference bags.  In the end, 16 vendors were willing to give the game a try, and Family Chartmasters created the display signs for Expo Hall.

Signs made by Family Chartmasters!

The only question that remained was, would it work? Would foot traffic to booth #1952 have 1,000+ people like the previous GBA initiative from 2017?

No matter the outcome, I had met amazing individuals who have products and services that I want to promote because of the people in the companies. In return, I hopefully made positive connections with companies so that they are cheering for our YouTube channel and eConference ideas. And who knows, perhaps some partnerships will develop in the future.

Meet & Greets

The goal of Family History Fanatics as a genealogy education company is to promote influencers, vendors, and ourselves. As such with the GBA.BUZZ partnership squared away; we turned to influencers.

Many genealogy influencers will never have a booth at a conference. Their business model, or lack of one, prohibits the investment. They have services that aren’t conducive to telling or promoting with a physical presence at a conference.

These rock stars were willing to go along with our initiative!!!

With that in mind, we coordinated Meet & Greets so these influencers could meet their fans. The added hope was they would promote us and our booth and thereby increase foot traffic to Newbie Land. In addition to the Meet & Greets, this solved the challenge of losing Wednesday for interviewing such individuals due to the booth opening earlier.

Nine of my favorite genealogy rockstars agreed to participate in the Meet & Greets. Lisa, Elizabeth, Thomas, Nicole, Diane, Randy, Amy, Michael, and Jill, you are such amazing people, and I can’t thank you enough for your support of our company and the goals we’re striving to achieve.

Prior to RootsTech, I created promotional pieces to increase the excitement for these Meet & Greets. I wanted the rock star’s fans to know one place they would find the nifty nine and go ‘fangirl’ or ‘fanboy’ on them.  The question was, would it work?

Should We Take Caleb?

If Andy and I could generate 1,000+ booth visitors, we would need help staffing the booth and conduct interviews. Who could we get to help? We have a built-in staff member, but bringing him along would increase our expenditures. However, what’s the Family History Fanatics team without Caleb?

The momma in me thought this would be a unique opportunity for Caleb to learn about entrepreneurship first hand and the emotional roller coaster. I also had high hopes that he would be able to attend a few classes. Additionally,  Caleb hasn’t flown on an airplane since he was about five years old, so he was looking forward to that venture.

Family History Fanatics on plane to RootsTech
We took “The Young One” to RootsTech 2018

Not to spoil the story, but flash forward to RootTech.  Taking Caleb turned out to be a very positive thing. He interviewed several guests for FHF, manned the camera during other interviews, edited and uploaded several videos in the Media Hub (yes, that youngling was my teenager), and did a few ‘man-on-the-street’ interviews for future video projects. He also was able to socialize at the MyHeritage After Party and visit with Dear Myrtle during a breakfast.  He was not able to attend any sessions. He’ll have to wait until the Texas State Genealogical Conference. Caleb has a unique experience few teenagers ever explore. I’ll have to have him write about it in a future blog post. As a homeschooling mom, how should I classify all of these experiences?

With the outreach plans in place and marketing scheduled, Andy and I needed to focus on our products at the booth. For that, you’ll have to read the next post.

Stay tuned for Part 3

Open Shop and They Will Come? Generating Foot Traffic at RootsTech
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.

2 thoughts on “Foot Traffic Generating Plans – First Time RootsTech Vendor Perspective (Part 2)

  1. Deborah. I'm so glad. I know those who played and finished enjoyed it immensely. I just wish I knew how I could have doubled or tripled the participation rate. Other vendors were so disappointed.

  2. I really enjoyed participating in the GBA Buzz scavenger hunt (once the wifi improved!). Instead of wandering aimlessly among vendors, it gave me a focus. I also appreciated the post-conference emails (but maybe I'm weird) refeshing my memory. One month later and I have yet to return to my bag full of promo ads. But I HAVE been able to follow-up on emails!

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