I have more than 20 genealogy conferences scheduled during the next year at which I will be speaking and teaching classes. Of all those conferences, RootsTech 2014 has the potential to reach the most people. If you like to teach, one student is sufficient. But if you have a passion, you would like to convey your message to as many people as possible. It was the stated goal of the past RootsTech conference to re-broadcast the upcoming 2014 conference to over 600 locations through out the world in a variety of languages. If that happens and I have no doubt that RootsTech 2014 will come close to or exceed that goal, presenting at this one conference could reach more people than all the other conferences combined.
The reason for the expansion of RootsTech 2014 lies in the active participation of all four of the large online genealogical database companies; FamilySearch.org, the sponsor of the Conference and the other three, D.C. Thompson (findmypast.com), MyHeritage.com and Ancestry.com. It is not just the participation of these four companies that is important, it is also important that the Conference brings together diverse communities that approach genealogy from very different perspectives.
The dynamics of our economy make it impractical for the vendors in the genealogical community to go to smaller conferences. The cost of travel, lodging and transporting their sales materials, has to be covered by either the advertising advantage of having a certain number of people or covered by actual sales at a conference. Over the past couple of years, we have seen fewer and fewer of the larger vendors attending local or smaller genealogy conferences due to these economic constraints. One advantage of a large conference, such as RootsTech, is the guarantee that there will be large enough numbers to pay the overhead expenses of attending for either reason.
The same economies of scale apply to the presenters and other participants. If you have enough people present or the opportunity to talk to large numbers through re-broadcasts, then there is a greater attraction.
In addition, the genealogical community needs to attract a new, younger group of participants. RootsTech is taking the opportunity of having a large attendance to provide activities that they hope will attract these younger participants and with a special track of classes aimed at beginners, they also hope to attract new potential genealogists of all ages. At smaller conferences, the classes cannot cover the depth of having dozens of different presenters on an advanced track at the same time as delivering multiple classes for beginners.
So, there are a lot of reasons why a large genealogy conference makes sense. Personally, one big advantage is that many of the people in the diverse genealogical community attend and I get to see and meet them in person. That is a very big plus.