Wednesday 3 May 2017

UK's major annual genealogy event runs out of steam

Many years ago, when I worked for a publishing company that ran a big industry-specific consumer show, I was told that such events rarely survive more than 12 outings. That milestone was passed this year by the UK's annual family history get together – the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show, exhibition and conference – but it was still a shock to learn today that its owners, Immediate Media (who were bought by a German business in January), have pulled the plug. It will not be held again.

Better known as WDYTYA?Live, the show was held at Olympia in London from 2007 to 2014, and continued at the NEC in Birmingham right up to last month, plus a one-off outing to Glasgow SECC in 2014.

In the early days, visitor numbers hovered around the 20,000-mark; more recently they had fallen to somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000.

Anecdotal comments suggest this year's show, held 6-8 April, saw a further drop. The list of exhibitors was a bit light, too, reflecting the ever-increasing cost of booking a stand, never mind the associated travel, hotels and subsistence costs for those who will man them for the three days of the show.

Read Immediate Media's announcement about the show's closure here.

The Society of Genealogists (SOG) has always been closely associated with WDYTYA?Live, recruiting a huge team of Ask the Experts volunteers, organising an excellent programme of genealogy lectures, and managing the SoG's Family History Show, which always brought in so many local genealogy groups and associations with their indispensible geographically-specific expertise. You can read the SoG's reaction to WDYTYA?Live's demise here.