The buzz around the FGS exhibit hall today is that this year’s registered attendance is down to around 700. That would evidently represent a big drop from recent years, which saw perhaps closer to 1,200 or more attendees. Speculation for the cause of the drop (if indeed it turns out to be real) seems to be running along two basic lines:
- The economy’s down, and the price of gas is up, so genealogy enthusiasts are cutting down on their discretionary conference travel spending.
- The speakers were selected so far in advance that there’s not a whole lot of new talks on offer to attract attendees, particularly coming so soon after the NGS Meeting.
I don’t have much basis for a response to explanation #2, but from my brief scan of the presentations at FGS this year, they look plenty interesting to me. (I unfortunately may not be able to get away from the booth to see many of them.)
Explanation #2 has a common-sense plausibility to it that makes it hard to argue with. From a business standpoint, the relatively low exhibit area traffic calls into question the ROI of our renting a booth here.
Ever the optimist, however, I take the glass-half-full view: if genealogists are finding it too expensive to travel to conferences, they may also be looking for low-cost alternatives to long-distance trips in search of genealogical documents. Genlighten should meet that need quite nicely!