I’ve never been to an IAJGS Conference before. What do I need to know?
We’re so glad you’re joining us this year. We want to help make your experience at the conference stress-free and productive, so we’ve created this FAQ just for you. If you’re not a first-timer, this may help as a conference refresher!
What does registration include?
Conference registration includes access to almost all sessions of the conference. Sessions include lectures, the film festival, evening entertainment sessions, and the keynote speech and reception. It also includes access to the Resource Room and Exhibitor Room. When you check in at the registration area, you will receive a conference tote bag containing a printed conference planner, the conference syllabus on a USB flash drive, your badge and badge holder, and other materials. Your conference badge will be your ticket for admission to the conference areas. On-site conference registration begins the night before the conference begins.
What sessions are not included in the registration?
Computer workshops may incur an additional expense. SIG Luncheons, Breakfast with the Experts, and the Gala Banquet also carry additional charges. These items can be added to your registration.
Is the hotel included in the conference fee?
You must register and pay for the hotel separately. We have negotiated special room rates that are available through June 23 provided space remains available. We encourage you to book your rooms early to insure availability and the best rates. Our discounted conference rate is available from Monday, July 17 to Wednesday August 2, 2017. Use those extra days to enjoy the many Orlando area attractions with your family!
Is there Internet access?
All conference areas have free wi-fi available to all attendees. All hotel rooms in the conference block also have free wi-fi for guests.
What is a SIG?
SIGs are Special Interest Groups. JewishGen sponsors a variety of SIGs, which cover many areas where Jews lived, as well as some non-geographic topics. A few SIGs are independently run, including the Litvak SIG (covering modern Lithuania), JRI-Poland, and Gesher Galicia (covering the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia). There are no fees to join the JewishGen-sponsored SIGs. These groups offer a Discussion Group Mailing List for members to ask questions and learn about resources for research, help in finding your roots, and a variety of databases reflecting vital records, tax records, business directories, etc. All SIGs are run by volunteers, and they always need volunteers to help with a wide variety of tasks.
What is a BOF?
Birds of a Feather groups are organized by individuals for much smaller areas than the SIGs. Typically, they are researching a town or a small region. Many of the BOFs have informal meetings during the conference. Some BOF meetings might be scheduled in advance and listed in the conference programs. Others may be announced at the last minute. There will be a message board outside the hospitality area where information on BOF meetings can be posted.
During the conference, how will I know when sessions are added or cancelled or special events are happening?
The conference features a free app, downloadable to Apple and Android devices, which includes a calendar of events that makes it convenient to check your schedule on your phone or tablet during the day. Every time something changes, you will be notified. The app is also a convenient way to store your own personal conference schedule. The app is also accessible from any computer using your browser and Internet access. Most schedule changes are also posted at the rooms where the changes are happening and at the hospitality area.
I’m still not sure what to expect. Can you tell me more?
Before the conference, you should review the schedule, which is available on the web site and the conference app (which will be available a few weeks before the conference). You will also receive a printed copy of the Daily Planner when you register. Know which lectures and meetings you want to attend. Pay for any meals or computer workshops in advance; some sell out. If you can't decide which sessions to attend, look at what's being recorded. If you want to attend something that's not being recorded, go to that and you can buy the recording of the other later.
People dress from casual to business, but there is no rule. Some like to go dressier for the Gala Banquet. Be prepared for various temperatures in the rooms. Have a sweater, especially if you get cold easily.
Some people like to bring snacks, but make sure that they're silent snacks if you eat during the sessions. Otherwise, snack in the hallways between sessions.
When you first arrive, you'll need to register before you can attend any sessions. Registration opens Saturday evening and then has daily hours throughout the conference. Get a feel for the conference area and where all the rooms are so you won't feel too lost on the first days. There will be a map, and you can wander around.
There is an early Sunday session for New Attendees. You should consider attending that one.
Check out the Genealogy EXPO, a new conference event, featuring lectures from the exhibitors, and the Share Fair, to learn more about IAJGS-related non-profit groups, both events on Sunday only.
Be sure to visit the Exhibit Hall to learn about products and technologies available. Visit the Resource Room for access to subscription web sites, some that individuals can't subscribe to and this may be your only chance to use them. (Check the list of databases that will be available and prepare any research in advance.)
Socialize and network as much as you can. Talk to people in the SIG and BOF meetings. That's where you'll meet the people researching the same locations as you. Start up conversations with anyone hanging around in the hallway, or join some conversations already going. Everyone wants to talk about genealogy at our conference. No worries of relatives rolling their eyes at another story about the ancestors or the research.
Any other questions? Join the Discussion list and ask there, or try asking on social media. There are several Jewish genealogy Facebook groups that are very active with our attendees, as well as our official Facebook page.
Where is the conference taking place?
At the Walt Disney World Swan Resort in Orlando, Florida. All conference events will take place inside the hotel. Visit the Hotel page for more details.
I can’t attend the conference. What can I do?
We have two options for those who cannot attend, as well as for those who are attending and cannot clone themselves. We will be offering IAJGS LIVE! -- about 60 sessions that will be broadcast LIVE! during the conference and then on-demand for three months after.
Fleetwood Onsite will also be there to record audio of most sessions, with slides for many, and anyone can purchase those as well.
Will I be able to buy genealogy reference books or software at the conference?
There will be an Exhibitor Hall with vendor booths where genealogy products will be for sale. Many of our speakers are also authors, and many will bring their books to sell as well. Speakers will sell their books in the Exhibit Hall for an hour after their presentations.
Will there be an app for smartphones and tablets?
Yes, there will be an app. We will announce when it is ready to be downloaded. Most previous IAJGS conferences have had the app ready about a month before the conference. The app can also be used on any computer.
How can I find a roommate for the conference?
Post your request on the conference Discussion List and watch for the postings of others. Arrangements must be made directly between conference registrants.
Will there be a Film Festival? When will we know the schedule?
There will be a Film Festival. Details of the included films are usually available around the same time as the rest of the program schedule becomes available.
I am strictly kosher. What will be available to me at the conference?
There will be a kosher option for all meals associated with the conference. Additional options, usually in the form of pre-purchased lunches, will also likely be available as they have at previous conferences. We'll post more when we know more.
What arrangements are being mde for a daily minyan as well as a Shabbat service?
As usual, we will offer opportunities for daily and Shabbat minyanim and kashrut. Minyanim will be added to the schedule when the schedule becomes available and volunteers will be organizing the minyanim. We'll share more information as it becomes available.
Can I buy recordings of the conference?
We will offer recordings in two formats. Fleetwood Onsite records audio and slides for most sessions and they can be purchased individually or at a discount for the entire conference. Additionally, IAJGS LIVE! will be broadcasting about 60 sessions live over the Internet and then on-demand for three months following the conference.
When are the recordings delivered after the conference?
IAJGS LIVE! will be available immediately after the conference. Recordings created by Fleetwood Onsite will be sent to each purchaser following the conference. It generally takes a short amount of time to receive the recordings. We will try to provide a better time estimate in the future.
How can I access the syllabus?
All full registration attendees (those who purchase registration for the entire week) will receive a USB flash drive with the syllabus on it. PDFs of speaker handouts will be available for download for a short time before and during the conference via and conference website and the mobile app. For an additional fee, attendees can purchase a printed copy of the syllabus. More details about the cost will be posted when it is available.
Is the Family Finder on the flash drive?
The Family Finder is not included on the flash drive for privacy purposes. It is too easy to harvest email addresses for nefarious purposes from a PDF. The IAJGS Conference Online Family Finder will be available to search for other registrants by their name, ancestral surnames and towns, DNA haplogroups, and JGS and SIG affiliations.
How do I use the wi-fi in the rooms? In the conference area?
Hotel guests will receive information about how to connect to the wi-fi in their rooms when they check in.
Wifi access will also be available in the Swan Foyer immediately outside the lecture halls, where there is plenty of seating. Login information will be available at the hospitality desk.
Is the hotel accessible?
Yes, the meeting rooms and other public areas at the hotel are fully accessible. The hotel has ADA compliant guest room, some with bathtubs and others with roll-in showers. If an ADA compliant guest room is required, please note this when you reserve your room.
Is there free Internet access?
Internet access is free in the hotel lobby as well as in the conference areas. Hotel guests will also be able to use the hotel's wi-fi free from their rooms.
I’ll be driving. Is there parking?
Parking is available at the hotel for $10 per day for self-parking and $20 per day for valet parking.
Can I get hotel points with my reservation?
Yes, you will be making your reservation directly with the hotel so any loyalty programs they have, you will be able to use.
How do I get to the hotel from the airport?
The lowest cost transportation available is the Mears Transportation shuttle service, approximately $23 one way or $37 round trip. Visit our Hotel page for more details and other options, including taxi and limousine options.
What’s the weather like in Orlando?
The average temperature in Orlando in July has a high of 92° F and a low of 76° F. Average precipitation is 7 inches.
What are my options for meals?
Because we are at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort, and the Dolphin is right next door, there are 17 restaurants and lounges in the two hotels. Visit the Hotel page to see a list of the restaurants and the types of food they serve.
Are there any nearby kosher restaurants? Vegan restaurants?
There may be some items available for vegans in some of the hotel restaurants. We'll share more information here about kosher, vegan, and gluten free options when we know more.