Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I Don't Go To Conferences All the Time

Marian Pierre-Louis posted How Do Y'all Manage to go to Conferences All the Time?! today, wondering how geneabloggers and their readers go to conferences.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1)  We are retired and are on a fixed income - two pensions and Social Security, with nothing to "tie us down."  Family takes priority - we love to visit with our daughters and grandchildren. 

2)  I have local society commitments as research chair and newsletter editor for CVGS, program summaries for SDGS newsletter, and attend CVGS, SDGS and CGSSD programs when possible.  In addition, I teach a four-session "Beginning Computer Genealogy" class at OASIS (a senior adult education center) three times a year, and speak 8 to 12 times a year around Southern California.  So, I do have some blackout times each month.

3)  We have the time and enough income to take several vacations a year - using perhaps 10% of our income. In general, we agreed to do conference vacations together and enjoy the events, our colleagues, and ourselves.  When there's an opportunity, we plan the conference trips so that we can do research in repositories, visit ancestral areas, and see cousins and friends.  However, our income is not enough to afford every conference or institute, so we plan and choose.

4) There are four major conferences (NGS, FGS, RootsTech, SCGS), many state or regional conferences, and even genealogy cruises that I would love to attend. Then there's the weeklong genealogy institutes (IGHR, NIGR, SLIG, GRIP, etc.) that I have not attended.

5)  The plan each year now is to attend at least two major conferences, and sometimes three, and almost always one of them is the SCGS Genealogy Jamboree because the travel costs are relatively low.  This year, it was RootsTech and then the Legacy Family Tree cruise in Europe.  In 2011, it was SCGS and FGS in Springfield, Illinois, with a trip to Fort Wayne, Michigan, Wisconsin and Chicago.  In 2010, it was SCGS and NGS in Salt Lake City.

6)  As a geneablogger, one of the perks has been to be an official conference blogger, which in the past has included free or reduced registration fees, and sponsored meals, programs and gifts.  Some of these perks may be eliminated in the coming years.  Frankly, the major perk for me is the camaraderie with my geneablogging and industry colleagues.  We have a lot of fun while blogging, talking, eating and drinking together.  There are always laughs, a lot of support, and, um, unplanned fun.  We gravitate to each other, and have a wonderful accepting community that includes spouses, significant others, and friends.

7)  Travel costs can be reduced by making reservations early enough to get discounted rates.  We use Southwest Airlines a lot because it's convenient and goes almost everywhere we want to go, and bags fly free. 

8)  Hotel room costs are the biggest expense for us.  SCGS Jamboree is expensive, so we stay only two or three nights.  NGS and FGS have tried, in recent years, to go to mid-sized cities rather than big metropoli in order to reduce hotel room costs.  Salt Lake City is relatively inexpensive near the FHL.  For those on a budget, sharing a room with 1, 2 or 3 others is an option.  It's not for us.

9)  We typically avoid the evening banquets and sponsored lunches, mainly because of Linda's dietary issues but also due to the cost.  We made an exception at Jamboree this year and enjoyed the Hollywood Gala which is mostly social networking rather than presentation while sitting at a table eating rubber chicken.

10)  Some attendees defray their registration, hotel and travel expenses by making presentations at conferences.  These presentations can then be used at local and regional programs or seminars.  However, there is a significant lead time for applying for and being approved of the speaking gig.  I don't do this, yet...mainly because of the lead time involved.

11)  We avoid car rentals unless we are going off on a research trip, and then it becomes an unavoidable expense to be factored in.

12) Having streaming video, and subsequent access to them, is a way for those who cannot afford the expense of a conference, along with webinars, is the best opportunity for distance learning.  They haven't affected attendance at RootsTech or Jamboree as far as I can tell!   Of course, local programs and seminars are an option also for genealogy education.

So there you have it - why and how we go to conferences.

What about you?  Why and how do you make conferences, and institutes, work for you?

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2012/07/i-dont-go-to-conferences-all-time.html

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


Marian said...

From reading your comments it sounds to me like reducing cost can be more manageable *if* planning is done in advance. Plan/try to be a speaker by submitting proposals. Then let people know you are attending and arrange to be an official blogger or other to get reduced/no registration cost. That would make the conference more manageable. Obviously making a decision right before the early bird deadline is too late in the game to be effective.

gophergenealogy said...

What a great post about conferencing and other educational opportunities. For me family, finances, time, and health all are factors. I do not really enjoy being in large crowds so I prefer the smaller venues. When speaking I miss out on some lectures I would like to attend. As a blogger I would love to just mingle with the bloggers.