10 Tips for Having a Great Time at 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 them 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 at 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 wouldn’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

Bring 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 200 and 300 West entrance 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 most up-to-date.

RootsTech 2019 Schedule at a glance

Download the RootsTech Schedule at a Glance. (Be advised, classes are subject to change. )

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 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 for 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 multiple 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 cannot 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.

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