The setting seemed ideal for those of us struggling to find an end to winter. However, for genealogy enthusiasts, it wasn't much of a draw.
The NGS Conference in Ft Lauderdale had a very poor showing this year. Apart from opening day, the Exhibition Hall was empty most of the time. I can't imagine many of the vendors were able to break even on costs, when considering booth rental, flights, hotel, shipping, meals. Unfortunately poor turnouts make them think twice about attending the following year.
The consensus among those I spoke with - and believe me we had plenty of time to ponder - was that the new fad of live-streaming the talks makes it less desirable for people to want to attend in person. Sure they don't get to network, but much of that is compensated for on social media. And they don't get to visit the Exhibitors. Bit the savings on travel, hotel, conference fees and even the money they would spend at the vendor booths seems to be enough of a draw to simply sit back in their comfy clothes, with coffee in hand and attend from their favourite armchair, bed, deck chair. Its a win for the attendees and a huge loss for the vendors. It will also be a loss for the organizers who have the expense of venue rental, shuttle bus rental, speaker fees, speaker expenses.
Are we doing ourselves a disfavour by allowing so many talks to be live-streamed? Or is this simply the way of the future for genealogy conferences? Perhaps they will all become virtual, with RootsTech perhaps being the exception, and vendors will simply pay to have advertising and links on the conference website. Goods can be shipped in a matter of a couple of day and subscriptions can be instantaneous. What the attendee misses out on, of course, is seeking advice from those in the know who can be easily accessed in the marketplace.
It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.