I recently wrote an article complaining about the high costs of attending some of the national genealogical conferences: hotel rooms of more than $150 a night, $43 a day for parking, $10 a day for Internet access, and admission to the conference itself which nowadays can exceed $200. Judging by the comments posted at the end of the article at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2008/09/highway-robbery.html, many people agree with me.
My next scheduled genealogy conference will be at the Family History Expo 2008 to be held November 14th-15th in Mesa, Arizona, and the “highway robbery” described in my earlier article does not apply here.
Now, this is NOT a national conference, but there are some lessons to be learned here. It's tough to predict attendance at this local event, but the same organizers typically attract more than 1,000 attendees to their similar conference in St. George, Utah. The Mesa event is being held for the first time, so there's no telling how many people will show up. However, Mesa and nearby Phoenix have a much larger population than St. George, so there is an opportunity for a big crowd. I'll be curious to see how many do attend.
I just checked the conference web site at http://www.myancestorsfound.com/events/upcoming.php?event_id=43 and discovered no less than FIVE hotels listed. Best of all, the MAXIMUM price at any of them is $99 a night plus taxes. One hotel (a Best Western) lists rooms at $69.99 a night plus taxes. All of them provide free parking, and four out of five provide free Internet access! (The fifth says it has Internet available but doesn't mention any prices on the web site). All of the hotels also provide free breakfasts, and most provide microwave ovens and refrigerators in the rooms.
Early bird registration is available now at $65 (Hurry, that price expires September 15.), but if you procrastinate long enough, you will pay $90 at the door.
There will be many, many differences between the Mesa conference, sponsored by a private company, and the national conferences sponsored by NGS and FGS. For one thing, the two-day conference in Mesa will NOT feature 100+ nationally-recognized speakers. It will not have sponsored luncheons, and it will be missing a number of other things. It will have a syllabus on CD. The conference banquet costs only $33 and features a "Musical Journey with Beau Sharbrough."
I cannot write a side-by-side comparison of this local conference versus the national events as there are too many differences. It is an "apples versus oranges" comparison. However, I do like the prices. I even found a $198 round-trip airfare – not bad for a 4,600-mile round trip! I think I can afford to go to this one. Maybe you can, too.
You can read more about the Mesa, Arizona, Family History Expo 2008 at http://www.myancestorsfound.com/events/upcoming.php?event_id=43.
P.S. The November weather usually is great in Mesa.