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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

MARY’S CONFERENCE TIPS

MoSGA Board member Mary E. Celeste has generously offered us some tips on getting the most out of our NGS Conference experience in May 2008. Her guide is fairly lengthy, so I will be posting it over several days. Enjoy!

NOTE: Mary is not an official NGS spokesperson- these tips are based on her own past attendance at national genealogical conferences.

MARY’S CONFERENCE TIPS, PT. 1

There’s a very exciting opportunity coming up in May, and you don’t want to be left out. As a self-proclaimed conference expert, I hope the following suggestions will guarantee the greatest possible benefit from the National Genealogical Society Conference here in Kansas City.

1. REGISTER EARLY! A special registration fee is available for those “early birds” who get their application in by 31 March. The savings are pretty significant:

NGS members, early bird - $175, after 31 March - $210
Non-members, early bird - $210, after 31 March - $245
Single day early bird - $95, after 31 March - $95

Besides saving money, you’ll get your choice of receiving your syllabus in print or on CD– or, for an extra $10, you can get BOTH versions. Registering AFTER March 31, or for a single day will entitle you to only the CD. More about the syllabus later.

You have a lot of options to choose from regarding pre-conference workshops, social functions, tours, meals, etc. For a detailed look at registration,go to
http://www.eshow2000.com/ngs/. See topic number 10 below for advice on meals and social events.

Membership in the National Genealogical Society for an individual is $60 per year. Each additional family member can join for a mere $15. For details, see: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/member.cfm.

2. STAY AT THE CONFERENCE HOTEL! You may think it’s not in your
budget, especially if the conference is in your own town, but I can’t stress enough how the convenience of having a room in the building can make the difference between driving home bleary-eyed after the banquet or other evening event and hopping up before the roosters, so you can make it to that early session for which you’ve been waiting all week. Likewise, staying in a less-expensive, non-conference hotel when you’re out of town requires multiple garage fees, if you drive in, and transportation headaches if you fly. I love being able to go take a “cat nap” when my batteries run down and change clothes for an evening event if it’s appropriate. And we all just need to take a break and kick off our shoes sometimes.

Now, sadly, having touted all the advantages of staying at the conference hotel, you may have already missed the opportunity. The block of rooms reserved by NGS are nearly gone. So, you need to try to reserve a room immediately. This is becoming a tradition, so for any conference, reserve your room at the host hotel as soon as you decide you are going to the conference. The good news is that NGS has now reserved a block of rooms at the neighboring Westin Crown Center, but they are going fast as well!

If you try to make a reservation and are told that the rooms are all taken, you should inquire if there are any rooms available, at any rate, for the days you plan to stay. You won’t get the advantages of the conference discount, but you may get a room. Then, ask if they have a waiting list for those who cancel their reservations, which happens. Ask if you can be put on that list and if you can transfer your reservation should one of the NGS rooms become available. Meanwhile, I’d call frequently to see if any better deal is available, and I’d call every day, the last week.

If money is an issue, most hotel rooms can accommodate up to five people (two double beds and a cot). Remember the slumber parties when you were in high school? Not much has changed and they’re still as much fun. If you snore, kindly bring some earplugs for your friends. Make plans for who will take evening showers and who will take morning showers. Will you need to bring an extra hair dryer? Also, you might want to bring your own clothes hangers. Be honest about how many people are staying in your room and check to see if an appropriate number of towels have been provided. Call room service as soon as possible if you need more.

Check ahead to see if there is a refrigerator and/or microwave in your room. If you’re driving, bring your own drinks and bottled water. If you’re flying, check out the difference between the cost for a soft drink in the gift shop vs. the vending machine – I’ve frequently found it more economical to buy from the gift shop. If you’re near a convenience or grocery store, take a walk over and buy what you can carry. Drivers can bring an ice chest, while flyers will just have to use the ice from the hotel ice machine to cool down your drinks.

If there is a stocked refrigerator, DO NOT TOUCH the contents until you know what the cost will be. If you’re bringing you own drinks and snacks, ask that your refrigerator be emptied of the hotel-provided contents and ask for a written, signed receipt confirming that you returned all contents unused. Tape a note to the refrigerator door telling the housekeeping staff that you do NOT want your refrigerator restocked during your stay. Then, when you checkout, show them the photocopy and the note. I’ve heard horror stories about people who have checked out with an empty fridge! It can be very costly, when it gets restocked daily!

Here’s the link to the hotel reservations and information: http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/hotel.cfm.

Mary E. Celeste
Kansas City, MO

1 comment:

Harold said...

I love your blog, but I would like offer some more specific information on motel stays. I will be attending NGS and there was a difference of more than $100 a night between a respectable out-of-town motel and the conference hotel -- and the parking fees apply at the conference hotel whether you're staying there or not. Judge for yourself, but shop around.