Friday, 10 April 2015

Canada's First National Genealogy Conference CANCELLED

Last night, I received this email from Heidi Walker:

Regretfully, we must cancel the National Genealogy Conference in Canada for July 17-19, 2015.

Many thanks to the planned speakers for their willingness to support an inaugural national genealogy conference in Canada, to the companies and organizations who were willing to support the conference through sponsorship, and to those who generously helped to spread the word to their network of genealogists.

I must say I am not surprised. The conference wasn't well thought out. It was scheduled just 6 weeks after the Ontario Genealogical Society's Conference, the largest in Canada. It was scheduled to take place in Halifax with the hopes that an optional tour of Pier 21 would be the draw. There were very few workshops and the few that were on offer were repeated, making even less choice over the time of the conference. There was no opportunity to attend as a day delegate, so anyone living in the Maritimes was essentially weeded out. 

The website for the conference was not up and running until several months after the conference dates and schedule had been announced. 

The fees were initially astronomical at a whopping $895 per person. PER PERSON! This did not include airfare, hotel or a number of meals. Some basic research would have shown the organizers that the people who attend genealogy conferences are either individuals or they are not-for-profit agencies who send delegates, with the cost a major factor in the decision to attend. The fees were more in keeping with a trade show than a genealogy conference. 

Certainly the fees were significantly reduced late in the game. By 75%. That large of a discount tells a story in and of itself. And the new rate wound up being the same as the vendor fees required for an exhibit in the marketplace.

Hopefully at some point a national genealogical conference will be possible in Canada. But it needs to start with planning. And that includes a feasibilty study that would look at demographics of attendees, partnerships with local agencies and a more aggressive marketing scheme.

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