1.) Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
2.) Dress in layers and prepare for temperature swings in the conference center.
3.) Examine the schedule posted at this link, and plan what sessions you'd like to attend, BUT...
4.) Be flexible with your choices in case the rooms fill up quickly and there are no seats left.
5.) Familiarize yourself with Salt Palace Convention Center layout. Check out this interactive floor plan where you can see all three levels, with labels for all room names and numbers, as well as locations of restrooms, elevators and escalators, and entrances/exits.
6.) Attend at least two presentations given by presenters you've never before heard speak.
7.) Attend at least two presentations about topics not directly related to your own family history research.
8.) Download the free RootsTech app to your mobile device to have quick access to the full schedule, speaker and exhibitor profiles, and attendee list. You can also download syllabi, follow social media posts, take session notes, and message fellow attendees directly through the app. Click HERE to learn more about the app and how to use it!
9.) Do NOT take photos of presentation slides unless the speaker gives you EXPLICIT permission to do so.
10.) Do not arrive to sessions late. If you think you may have to leave a presentation early, sit near the back of the room.
11.) Silence all mobile devices during sessions.
12.) Do not wear perfume or cologne while attending RootsTech. Many people are hyper-sensitive to these sorts of odors. In the close quarters of presentation rooms, those smells can become overwhelming, causing headaches, watery eyes, and sneezing in some people.
13.) Be aware of where you are in relation to others. The conference center hallways and exhibit hall can get very crowded at times. It's great to see so many people connecting with others and having conversations, but when it's happening in the middle of a doorway or main hallway, it disrupts the flow of 'traffic' and can actually cause some major back-ups in people-movement. Simply stepping to the side while chatting or looking at your mobile device can alleviate some of that congestion.
14.) Don't overdo it physically or mentally. If you become overwhelmed, go back to your hotel room to rest, take a walk outside, or use the time as an opportunity to...
15.) Visit the Family History Library to do some research, BUT...
16.) Before the conference, examine the FamilySearch.org catalog and have a specific research plan so you are able to use every minute wisely.
17.) Visit the exhibit hall during ongoing sessions. You will have a better opportunity to converse longer with exhibitors and they will be able to devote more time to your needs and interests.
18.) Stay hydrated. Salt Lake City has a dry climate, especially in the winter. Bring your own water bottle. There are water fountains at the back of the exhibit hall where you can fill it.
19.) Don't forget the lip balm and hand lotion (see #17).
20.) Always have some hand sanitizer with you, and wash hands regularly, especially before eating or drinking.
21.) To prevent the spreading of germs, cough into your elbow/sleeve - not your hands. Bring extra cough drop suppressants if dry air especially aggravates your throat.
22.) Patronize Greater Salt Lake City businesses. Harmons Grocery - City Creek has amazing ready-to-eat food selections, Eva's Bakery has the best coffee and baked goods in the downtown area, and Eborn Books is a large new/used book store that you will want to get lost in for hours.
23.) Take the UTA-TRAX light rail system to get around downtown Salt Lake City and to and from the airport. It's clean, affordable and punctual - you can't go wrong.
24.) Bring tissues to the keynote speakers; they are usually quite emotional. You WILL tear up, at the very least, if not break out into a full-blown ugly cry.
25.) Arrive early to the general session and keynote speakers to have the opportunity to be entertained by host and emcee, Jason Hewlett. He is incredibly talented and has such a funny, wacky, and upbeat personality, you won't help but smile throughout his entire time on stage.
26.) If traveling from out of town, don't overpack, and leave some extra space in your luggage for any exhibit hall purchases you may return home with. You can also ask vendors if they provide shipping services, OR you can take advantage of the shipping services provided by the Salt Palace Convention Center Business Center.
27.) Before the conference, make a budget for your exhibit hall purchases. Seriously. You will be tempted by all manner of wonderful family history goodies, and unless you set a budget for yourself, you may find a nasty credit card bill waiting for you a couple weeks later.
28.) Bring along some business cards to exchange with people you meet, even if you don't have a 'business.' You can list your name, contact information, links to social media and/or blogs and websites, and the surnames in your family tree.
29.) Post often to social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) using the hashtag #RootsTech to share your experiences with others, and check out others' posts, too!
30.) Attendee feedback is taken very seriously, by both the RootsTech conference staff and presenters. You can leave conference feedback through the app by using the new Roots Crew icon, or you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also tweet your questions/concerns to @RootsTechConf. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. There are volunteers in matching t-shirts all over the conference center to help, and they are the kindest, most knowledge people, so please ask away! For more information about the Roots Crew, click HERE.
Also, after each session you attend, be sure to leave feedback for the presenter(s). This can be done directly through the RootsTech app, but choosing that little clipboard icon on the left side of the screen. It's very quick to do, and I know most, if not all, presenters highly value the ratings and comments.
I hope to see you at RootsTech 2019! If you register before January 25, you can get a four-day pass for $209, which is $90 off the regular price. Click HERE for more information and to register.
©2019 Emily Kowalski Schroeder