RootsTech Review: Through The Eyes of an Unknown Presenter

RootsTech 2016 is over, and while it is still fresh in my mind, I thought I would do a guest blog for my hot wife. This was our first time attending the event, and we had a great time, both at the conference and away from our kids. Thanks, Mom & Dad!

Me and the Hot Wife!

Me and the Hot Wife!

What I Didn’t Attend at RootsTech 2016

First, let me go over the things I didn’t do, so don’t ask me for an opinion on them or expect a review later in this series.

  1. We didn’t attend any of the Innovator Summit stuff. From what I read, it was more for developers and entrepreneurs, and I really don’t fit that bill.

  2. We didn’t go to any of the keynote speakers. We figured that most of them would be recorded, and we could listen to them at another time. Instead, we spent mornings at the Family History Library or found an empty room in the Salt Palace to practice my presentation.

  3. We didn’t go to any of the evening entertainment. In past years, a sketch comedy troupe, Studio C, had performed, and we were hoping they would be back. So what did we do instead? Well, one night, my wife socialized with RootsTech attendees in our hotel (following the pre-conference networking advice), and I went shopping for snacks. Another night was my in-room practice session, and then we had a lovely dinner date at the Cheesecake Factory at the City Creek Center. (Have to take advantage of ‘free’ date nights when you can!) On the last night, we went to the Family History Library and then to the MyHeritage After Party. (More on that later)

  4. I spent a minimal amount of time on the Expo floor. Devon could better tell you her thoughts. The few walkthroughs I did, there was nothing monumental to me that jumped out. But, I am not an expo floor type of person (unless it is a gun show, then I can spend hours looking at stuff and talking with people about it).

Gig 'em Salt Lake! (Wearing my Russian Origami Shirt - gun folks will understand)

Gig ’em, Salt Lake! (Wearing my Russian Origami Shirt – gun folks will understand)

  1. We also didn’t stay for Saturday. Our kids stayed with my parents, and we had some other obligations, so Friday was our last day. I would have perhaps enjoyed a couple of classes on Saturday, but nothing that I was dying to attend. So no Family Discovery Day or the mob of 20,000+ for us.

So knowing all of that, let me get on to the good stuff.

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The Journey to RootsTech

It had been 8 years since the last time I had been in Salt Lake City. We flew on Delta from Dallas. I used to fly several times a year for work, but I haven’t had to travel much with my current position. I didn’t figure out that Delta’s entertainment system was all through wifi until the end of the flight. That’s pretty slick and probably works well for the short 2 to 4-hour flights, but for longer flights, each seat better have a charger where I can plug my phone in to watch movies for the journey.

Thanks Delta for this amenity.
Thanks, Delta, for this amenity.

Another side note is I wish the airlines would figure out that they are using the least efficient way possible to board. Our boarding pass said Group 2 might sound like we were one of the first groups to board. Except Group 2 is the last to board. You have all of your Star, Gold, Special Elite, President’s Premier, and whatnot before the numbered groups. Then everyone is climbing over or getting up and blocking the aisle as everyone finds their seat. Board from the window to the aisle and from the back of the plane to the front.

This isn’t my theory. Several studies have been done which confirm that this method would cut the boarding time in half.

One last thing on travel. If they aren’t going to enforce the size limits on carry-ons, don’t bother having the size limits. The carry on sizing restrictions have not materially changed since at least I was a kid. If your bag is too big, check it (and pay the fee). Airlines should charge double if you get to the gate and your bag doesn’t meet the size limits.

Whoop! The Aggie has landed in Salt Lake City for RootsTech

Whoop! The Aggie has landed in Salt Lake City for RootsTech.

Devon Noel says this was the smoothest flight ever.
Thanks Delta for not causing her to grab the barf bag.

Devon Noel says this was the smoothest flight ever. Thanks, Delta, for not causing her to grab the barf bag.

Our Accommodations During RootsTech

We opted to stay at the Comfort Inn in Downtown. With all fees, it was less than $90 a night and provided breakfast each morning, appetizers and drinks on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and a free shuttle servicing the airport. The ride from the airport was with some other RootsTechers, and my wife talked up my class (she is a great cheerleader). At least one of our fellow travelers came to the class, so success for Devon Noel.

Comfort Inn Downtown Salt Lake City

Comfort Inn Downtown Salt Lake City (Image from

The room was fine, no problems with the wifi. A Fridge and microwave were available. The location was only a block away from the Trax station, which offered free transportation in downtown. Since we were only a few blocks from the Salt Palace and City Creek Center, we sometimes walked the distance and other times rode the Trax.

As mentioned earlier, on the first night of Roots Tech, Devon socialized with other RootsTech guests staying at the Comfort In.. We had enjoyed some of the complimentary appetizers, and then I went out to get some snacks and lunch for the next day at a nearby grocery store. In the meantime, Devon struck up a conversation with two women, and by the time I got back, she had a small crowd assembled. (In case you didn’t know, Devon is the outgoing one, I am the quiet one). I sat and joined the discussion, and of course, Devon talked up my class again. She started to use words like “epic” to describe it, so she really set the bar high for me to jump over.

A dusting of snow in Salt Lake City. View from outside Family History Library.

A dusting of snow in Salt Lake City. View from outside Family History Library.

Weather During RootsTech

Having lived in Iowa for several years, the dry air coupled with 15-30 degree temperatures did not feel very cold. Nor was there any wind. It did snow a little bit on Thursday, but not enough that you noticed a difference at the end of the day. We didn’t have hats or gloves, and it didn’t bother us. If we were in Texas or Iowa with similar conditions, we would have bought hats and gloves. In short, the weather was really nice considering we were in a definite winter location.

RootsTech Welcome Banner

Andy’s post is rather long, so I decided to break it up. Stay tuned to the parts of RootsTech that probably matter more than travel accommodations.

Recap of Tips Learned From RootsTech 2016

I really thought these insights from my hubby were great for anyone planning to attend RootsTech 2017.

  1. Don’t feel obligated to attend a streamed class or keynote when you can go to the Family History Library.

  2. Check out your flight amenities, so you don’t miss out (we almost skipped out on the free movies).

  3. If you can handle the walk, save some cash and stay at a hotel a little further away from the sponsoring hotels.

  4. Visit with RootsTech folks in cars, the hotel, or anywhere. We love family history, so speak up. You’ll be glad you did.

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