21 January 2008

What's good value in a genealogy conference?

The program for the 2008 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, 30 May - 2 June in London, Ontario,, was recently made available on the Society web site. The basic program is two plenary presentations, by Dick Eastman and Colleen Fitzpatrick, and seven other sessions. The theme is Wired Genealogy.

Basic early-bird pre-registration for OGS members is $110 Cdn. That's $12.22 Cdn per session. Finding a topic of interest by a speaker whose name you recognize in each session shouldn't be an issue as five presentations are run in parallel.

The cost per session increases to $16.11 Cdn for OGS non-members who miss the early-bird deadline of 1 April.

How does the cost compare with other pending genealogy conferences?

The (US) National Genealogical Society Conference is 14-17 May 2008 in Kansas City, MO. With basic early-bird registration of $175 US for NGS members, 19 sessions, and nine options in each the cost per session is $9.21 US. For non-members who miss the early-bird deadline it costs $12.89 US per session.

To these basic costs you need to add travel, food, accommodation and any other additional cost activities such as a tour, pre-conference workshops and banquets.

Total the costs for any these and you'll discover a major discretionary item in your household budget.

For a more affordable conference look at something more local. For example, the Ottawa Branch of OGS will hold its annual Gene-O-Rama on the evening of Friday 28 March and Saturday the 29th. For a $32 Cdn early-bird registration fee you get access to four plenary sessions, and one parallel mini-lecture. That's $8 Cdn per session.

With such a local conference you rarely get an array of high profile speakers. What you do get is talks by, and interaction with, people who know about your hometown resources. These are people you will likely be able to interact with again at Society monthly meetings.

Cost isn't value, and it may well be that the information gain and contacts you make at a major conference, that could save you hours of needless research, are good value. You have to evaluate what's being offerred and your needs. The sign in the training section of an organization where I worked stays with me:

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder about the future of large land-based conferences. Even with several concurrent sessions, it is difficult to cater to all interests. I think the most successful events in the future will be the smaller conferences or workshops, focussed on a particular area. A new trend is genealogy cruises on a theme. I've attended two hosted by Wholly Genes and enjoyed specialized lectures on TMG software, first-rate U.S. "national speakers" and a great vacation. Legacy and RootsMagic also host cruises and TIARA now has one with an Irish theme. I've attended FGS, and NGS in the US as well as OGS and found much more opportunity to mix with other attendees at sea than on land.