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RootsTech 2022 reached millions — and it’s simply the premiere


The three-day RootsTech 2022 family history celebration was the premiere weekend, says Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch

“We’re just really starting,” she said. “We have some big plans still happening for the next three weeks and beyond.”

While they are still analyzing registration, attendance and engagement time from the event, organizers said attendance was in the millions with attendees from 227 countries and territories. In 2021, the first year the event went all virtual, that attracted more than 1 million visitors from 240 countries and territories.

“When we looked at our goals and then what the numbers are currently saying, we are very, very pleased,” Allen said. 

The family history celebration was all virtual for the second year in a row. The conference had been in person at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City. In 2021, organizers pivoted to a completely online conference that was called “an experiment that worked” and “a ribbon-cutting” for future conferences. 

RootsTech first launched in 2011 with 3,000 attendees and grew to 32,000 in 2020, with thousands more who participated via livestream.

“RootsTech has gone through a massive evolution over the past few years. And we haven’t been afraid to try new things,” said Jonathan H. Wing, RootsTech manager. And one thing is extremely clear to me, and that is that people around the world are universally interested in the story of who came before and what makes them who they are. And we’re getting better at it.” 

See Church News’ coverage of the all-virtual RootsTech 2022

Going global

This year, organizers “really looked at different places around the world and thought about how we might increase participation and engagement in certain areas,” Allen said. 

“And it wasn’t just about bringing everybody in the world to RootsTech.org,” she said. “It was taking RootsTech content and engagement and experiences out to where they are.” 

Organizers also looked at how to bring more energy to the conference. 

Three of the seven keynote speakers were filmed at live events with audiences in Ghana, France and Argentina. The others were filmed in more of a documentary style. The Main Stage sessions included segments on cultural food and dances, along with updates from FamilySearch. Also, 60 of the classes were presented live — and several filled up quickly. 

Argentine singer Diego Torres looks at a photo of his mother during his RootsTech 2022 presentation on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Argentine singer Diego Torres looks at a photo of his mother during his RootsTech 2022 presentation on Friday, March 4, 2022.

Credit: Screenshot from FamilySearch.org

Wing composed an original song around the “Choose Connection” theme and a music video was released at the beginning of the event. 

In FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood’s opening keynote address, he invited attendees to reach out to others and share their stories with #ChooseConnection hashtag on social media. 

Read more: The story behind RootsTech 2022’s original ‘Choose Connection’ song, music video and social media campaign

Based on the social media and comments, Wing saw “that individuals felt like it was a timely message for the situation that we find ourselves today,” Wing said. “Individuals really resonated with that message of choosing connection.”

FamilySearch leaders had plans to go to the WorldExpo in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and were working to film a keynote speaker there in January. However, with the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant, plans changed. They ended up being there the same weekend as RootsTech and Allen joined the concluding session live from Dubai. 

Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch, speaks from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during the RootsTech 2022 closing session on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch, speaks from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, during the RootsTech 2022 closing session on Saturday, March 5, 2022.

Credit: Screenshot from FamilySearch.org

They filmed a presentation there and also a session with guest speaker Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Bin Saqr Al-Qasimi. Those are being put together with plans to release them on RootsTech.org. 

“We’re excited to share that with the world,” she said. 

They also experimented with broadcasting RootsTech sessions on television in the Philippines and in several west African countries, Allen said. 

“What we’re learning is that people are interested in familial content on TV,” she said.  

Live, virtual or both?

Will RootsTech ever be back in person? 

The feedback FamilySearch has received from people is divided — some people want to watch RootsTech sessions at home and others want it to be in person so they can better focus on it, Allen said. 

“There’s no way we can take away virtual,” Allen said. There are people who aren’t able to travel to Salt Lake City, and navigating multiple classes in the Salt Palace is difficult. 

However, she sees how “people are craving that energy and connection and that physical connection in the same room.”

7 messages from RootsTech 2022 keynote speakers: ‘Each of us can connect in our own way’

“It’s really now a question of do we have a large-scale in person like we used to? I don’t know,” Allen said. 

Wing said they look at lessons from RootsTech 2022 as they move forward planning for next year. 

“I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings. It could be a vastly different-looking conference. It could be similar. Time will tell,” he said. RootsTech 2023 will be March 2-4, 2023. 

More than a weekend

They wanted to provide an experience “in the end that’s engaging people all over the world and hopefully providing an experience that’s positive and uplifting for them,” Allen said. 

The sessions from Dubai will be released in coming weeks, Allen said. Release announcements will be made on RootsTech’s social media (Twitter @RootsTechConf, on Facebook and Instagram at @rootstechofficial).

Relatives at RootsTech will be open until March 25. The RootsTech sessions and classes are available for on-demand viewing, and many RootsTech participants have utilized the playlist feature to be able to easily reference classes. See RootsTech.org for information. 

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