This was my first WDYTYA? conference and to be honest it was my first genealogical conference of this size. With over 120 exhibitors and over 150 workshop sessions, there was literally something for everyone. I was only there for Sunday of the three-day event and that was probably a good thing. I was told that it was standing room only and extremely busy on Friday and Saturday.
I didn’t go to London specifically for this event. I’m here on business and lucky enough to grab a ticket. My first impression was that there really wasn’t anything here for me. I had to remind myself that this event was geared for the first time and beginner genealogist. The Ancestry.co.uk mega-booth did very well, offering free access to their service on a few dozen computers. FamilySearch also brought in a dozen computers for folks to try their search. These kiosks were just as busy, which confused me considering that FamilySearch is always free.
This should come as no surprise, but there were many folks there selling genealogical records. There were the big companies selling their subscription services and small societies selling their parish records. I’m already overpaying for the services I have, I can’t afford to drop $50 dollars for an unknown set of records on a CD with the hope of finding the one record I’m looking for. It’s difficult to make wise buying decisions at these events. I did come away unscathed.
There were more genealogical magazines than I thought existed offered at various booths. I really should get out more often. There were lots of books and charts and organizational tools. Universities were there offering online genealogical courses and degrees. There were booths with stuff that was completely unrelated to genealogy.
I wanted to walk in and learn something new and wow. I didn’t get that. I imagine that for those new genealogists they got exactly that and more. It would be like a kid in a genealogical candy store.
Since Sunday was quieter than the previous days, I was able to see all the booths two or three times. I took the opportunity to see what was out there, what was working and what wasn’t from a vendor perspective. I was surprised that no one was at the Mocavo kiosks and not surprised that the Family Tree DNA booth was hopping. Any booth that gave a person a chance to ask a question and walk away with some free knowledge was busy. Any booth that was just a service (not to pick on these folks) like art or videos or tourism were not as busy.
I might attend again in the future, not as a visitor but as a vendor. I saw a niche or two that was not represented. If you are into genealogy in the UK, this was the place to be. I imaging that the SoCal Jamboree will be the place to be in the States in June. I’ll be at RootsTech all three days in March and I’ll let you know how that goes.
I’ve been a hermit genealogist most of my life and this social genealogy is new to me. What are the biggest events in the genealogy world? If you could only take one trip a year, which event would it be?