I attended my first national genealogy conference in 1988. The following year, I paid for an exhibitor's booth at my second conference. Since then, I have worked in exhibitors' booths (the British call them "stalls") at many of the major genealogy conferences and will have booths at three more conferences this year. Along the way, I have learned that having a booth at a conference is expensive!
Typically, the rental of the booth space is one of the lower expenses. I have paid as little as $35 for an 8-by-10 foot booth at a regional conference held in a small city. The highest price I have paid will be this year at the National Genealogical Society's conference in Chicago: a single booth costs $250. Actually, that is a rather modest price, compared to the price of convention booths at many of the non-genealogy events I have attended over the years.
I am told that stalls at the Society of Genealogists' Family History Fair in London are significantly more expensive than what the U.S. societies charge. Let's not tell the U.S. societies, OK? We don't want to plant any ideas about price hikes.
The fees for "extras" add up fast, however. Want an electrical outlet so you can plug in a computer or a cash register? That will be another $50 to $100, depending on the convention center's rates. Telephone lines installed in the booth typically cost $100 or more. Would you like an extra chair in the booth? That will be $50 for a cheap plastic chair to perhaps $250 for something that looks like a living room chair. I don't want to buy the furniture; I just want to rent it for a few days!
I was impressed that the fee for renting an extra wastebasket at this year's NGS conference is $10.00 for four days. That's a ten-dollar rental charge for a cheap plastic wastebasket that can be purchased at a local five-and-dime store for about three bucks.
However, the ultimate rip-off is for a high-speed Internet connection. Be prepared to shell out big bucks if you want to surf the web from your exhibition booth. Some of us, myself included, need Internet connectivity in order to exhibit our services.
At this year's NGS conference, the high-speed Internet connectivity fee is $500 for the first day and $250 for the second day. The exhibitors' brochure doesn't specifically mention the third and fourth days, so I don't know if they are extra cost or not. Only the first two days of Internet usage is going to cost you $750, or nearly $40 PER HOUR!
However, there is a cheaper method available.
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