The three most important things for a successful retail establishment? Or for selling real estate? That’s right:
Over the past year and a half, I’ve staffed the Genlighten exhibit booth at more than 20 genealogy conferences in the US, Canada, and Europe. It turns out that (surprise!) location matters for a genealogy vendor just like it does for other businesses.
We’ve seen the most traffic when our booth has been:
- close to the entrance to the exhibit area
- within a few steps of the conference workshop classrooms
- next to the booth of a well-established vendor such as Footnote or Moorshead Publishing
- in a place where tired conference-goers tend to congregate, such as near a snack bar or seating area.
At NGS in Raleigh, we were close to the exhibit area entrance AND right across from the FamilySearch folks. At the SCGS Jamboree last year, we were close to an entrance and right next to the Geni.com booth. At some smaller state or county-level conferences, we’ve sometimes had our booth in the same room that the presenters were speaking. The results have been excellent in all these cases.
But things haven’t always worked out well for us. At this year’s Ontario Genealogical Society conference, we’re in a particularly remote spot. Vendors here are divided up into two separate locations, both positioned far from the conference classrooms. To get to either area, attendees have to follow a serpentine path through the hallways of the Sheridan College student center. The organizers have put up lots of helpful signs, but I still see lots of people with lost looks on their faces asking for directions.
What’s’ more, we’re in the far back corner of a nightclub-like venue, to the side of the stage where visiting bands perform for the students here when school’s in session. When I first noticed this on the conference website, I consoled myself by noting that our table would be right next to the ladies’ restroom, which struck me as a potential high-traffic area. Unfortunately, however, the door to the restroom is labeled — get this! — “Dirty Girl”. As you can imagine, it hasn’t been well-patronized!
On the bright side, the exhibit areas and the dorm-style residence areas have free wireless access, and there’s been complimentary breakfast each morning as well. Visitors who have managed to find our booth have been friendly and positive, as always. And Ontario Genealogical Society volunteers have gone out of their way to accommodate us.