The fifth annual RootsTech 2015 conference, hosted by FamilySearch, is officially in the record books as registering 23,918 attendees over three days, an 83 percent increase over 2014. And it’s not done yet as the world’s largest family history conference. There are already plans to deliver over 1,000 local family discovery day events throughout the remainder of 2015. It’s another indicator that family history continues to be a strong and growing interest not only in the United States, but internationally as well. Attendees to RootsTech 2015 came from far and wide, hailing from 49 states (West Virginia was the holdout) and 37 countries.
The popular conference’s formula for success included attracting well-known keynote speakers, such as former First Lady Laura Bush, Donny Osmond, Tan Le, and A. J. Jacobs, who shared inspiring family stories, and offering a rich combination of more than 500 classes, exhibits, demonstrations, and fun entertainment designed to appeal to multiple generations of family members and broad family history interests. Select sessions from RootsTech 2015 can be viewed for free at RootsTech.org.
RootsTech 2015 also included Innovator Summit and Family Discovery Day. RootsTech-specific registrations were up 43 percent (10,216 paid attendees versus 7,253 for 2014) and Family Discovery Day was up 125 percent (15,765 attendees versus 6,900 in 2014, which includes some who also paid to attend RootsTech). Registrations for both were closed early because of popular demand and full sessions. Additionally, 20 sessions were broadcast live online, pulling in another 128,000 viewers. Family Discovery Day sessions and highlights can be viewed at lds.org/discoverfamily.
The Innovator Summit at Rootstech featured cutting-edge content for developers, business leaders, and enthusiasts seeking to use family history data and services. The summit saw increases in attendees, developer apps, and prize money from sponsors ($25,000) for the growing RootsTech Innovator Showdown that challenged developers to submit their entries for a possible share of the reward purse. This year’s big winner was StoryWorth, which provides simple solutions to help families preserve and share their family stories.
Another exciting fact is that before the lights were turned off for RootsTech 2015 on February 14, volunteers from locations worldwide were already busy preparing to deliver their own free local family discovery day events. Select sessions and planning resources from RootsTech 2015 have been recorded, translated in 10 languages, and made available online to support these local volunteer organizers. By the first week following the conference, 65 local family discovery day events had already been held, including 27 in Latin America, one in Korea, and another in the Philippines. Over 1,000 more events are expected to be held throughout 2015, significantly extending the reach and impact of this popular conference. Search online the growing list of local family discovery day events to find one near you.
The most popular question posed by many conference goers, media, and exhibitors was, “What about next year?”
Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, which hosts the popular conference replied, “We are just thrilled to provide a forum where families and people of all ages can enjoy the thrill of family discovery and learn new ways to share and involve others, and the growing attendance numbers are certainly very encouraging.”
In 2016, in addition to the venue in Salt Lake City, the conference’s organizers plan on taking more advantage of live broadcasting, recording of content for online viewing, and further offering local family discovery day events worldwide as a way to continue expanding the popular conference’s reach.