What will RootsTech 2023 look like? When does registration open? What is the theme?
The RootsTech team answered these questions and more during a live question-and-answer session on Tuesday, Sept. 13, streamed on FamilySearch’s YouTube and Facebook accounts. Questions were submitted by participants worldwide and answered by Jen Allen, director of events at FamilySearch; Jonathan H. Wing, RootsTech creative manager; and Brandon Beckstead, RootsTech logistics manager.
After two consecutive years of being held completely online, RootsTech 2023 will be a virtual and in-person event, FamilySearch announced in June. The three-day global family history gathering will be held March 2-4, 2023, with the in-person experience taking place at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City.
“For those of you questioning whether to join us virtual or in person, the best part about this year is you get to choose how you join us,” Allen said. “We hope you will come to Salt Lake if you’re able, but if you aren’t, the virtual experience is going to be incredible. We cannot wait to connect with all of you all over the world.”
What is RootsTech all about?
Simply put, “it’s about connecting,” Allen said. “We’re here to really help you connect with your family first and foremost.”
RootsTech also provides an opportunity to connect with the latest innovations in the family history industry through the expo hall; with new learnings and knowledge in a variety of classes; with inspiring keynotes on the main stage; and with genealogy experts and family history enthusiasts worldwide.
Allen said it’s those four pillars — the expo hall, classes, main stage and connecting with others — that make up RootsTech.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced RootsTech to innovate and go entirely virtual in 2021 and 2022. More than 3 million people participated virtually in RootsTech 2022. The online experience was available in 11 languages, with classes available in up to 42 languages.
Thanks to the opportunity to go virtual, “our RootsTech family is so much bigger now,” Wing said.
What will RootsTech 2023 look like?
“We’re morphing what we used to do in Salt Lake City with what we’ve done the last two years in the virtual world,” Allen explained.
Beckstead said there will be more than 200 new virtual classes and an increased number of live classes. Around 10 to 15 classes will be streamed live each day from the Salt Palace for virtual participants. Many presenters who are teaching live at the Salt Palace are prerecording a virtual version of their class.
General sessions for the upcoming conference will be localized for virtual participants, Wing said. “We do plan to have live keynotes from Salt Lake, but we are mixing it together with the strategy that we had for our virtual events the past two years. So there will be some keynotes that will be held in different parts of the world. More on that to come.”
The RootsTech team promised an exciting lineup of speakers to be announced at a later date.
And the Relatives at RootsTech feature is back — for both in-person and virtual attendees. By connecting to the FamilySearch Family Tree, participants can see how they are related to others at RootsTech.
Wing emphasized that the virtual and in-person experiences are not two separate events. “What will be unique to this year is finding ways to connect what is happening virtually with what is happening on-site,” he said.
Allen added, “We’re looking for ways to bring all audiences in to see what’s happening in Salt Lake City but also Salt Lake City seeing what’s happening around the world.”
How much will it cost?
The virtual experience will continue to be free for everyone. The in-person experience will cost $98 — an all-inclusive pass for the three-day conference.
The expo hall at the Salt Palace will be free, offering an opportunity to see the 200-plus exhibitors, learn what the industry is doing, and “try out” RootsTech without having to pay for it.
Beckstead said of the 2023 expo hall: “We always call it the heartbeat of the conference just because it’s so much fun, there’s so much learning, and the newest innovations that are in the industry. It’ll be the same expo hall, but anyone can come.”
When can I register?
Registration is not required for virtual participants, but those who register will have added opportunities to enhance their conference experience, such as creating a personalized playlist of classes and chatting with speakers and attendees.
Those who register for the in-person experience will have access to the virtual experience as well.
A general schedule for RootsTech 2023 will be available when registration opens, with a more detailed schedule to come closer to the event.
“For the audiences all over the world, your schedule will look a little bit different because we’re localizing the schedule to make sure it makes sense for you in your timezone, in your language, in your part of the world,” Allen said.
What is the theme of RootsTech 2023?
Wing said the theme of RootsTech 2023 will be “uniting.”
“Everything we do is about uniting — bringing people together, bringing the industry together, bringing technology and innovation together,” he said. It’s also about uniting families past and present.
Will there be an app?
A RootsTech app is planned to be released three or four weeks before the event, Beckstead said. The app is primarily for in-person attendees, providing a way for them to select the classes they are interested in and plan a schedule.
The virtual experience will continue to be available on RootsTech.org. The site will host the live event page when RootsTech begins.
Allen added that engineers are hard at work improving technological aspects of the virtual experience.
How long will the virtual classes be available?
RootsTech provides a library of online learning year round. Allen said the recorded classes will be available on RootsTech.org for six months to three years, depending on the class. Several hundred classes are on the website now from the two previous virtual events.
Will an in-person RootsTech event be held outside the U.S. again?
RootsTech traveled to London in October 2019 for its first international in-person event. About 10,000 attended. It was an experience of “great learnings,” Allen said.
“We are discussing it,” she said of future international events. “But we don’t know.”
The Q&A event attracted participants from several countries, including Puerto Rico, Brazil, Canada and Argentina, and several U.S. states, such as Alaska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Florida, Texas, Colorado and Utah.
Like previous years, the RootsTech team plans to release “Road to RootsTech” videos as the 2023 event gets closer.