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Family Tree DNA's International Conference on Genetic Genealogy

From ISOGG Wiki

Family Tree DNA debuted the first International Conference on Genetic Genealogy on Saturday, 30 October 2004. The company has hosted the conference every consecutive year since except for 2008 when the conference was cancelled due to damage caused by Hurricane Ike. The conference has been held annually at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel except for 2005 when it was held at National Geographic in Washington D.C. and in 2009 when it was held near the Houston Galleria.

The first conference in 2004 was a one-day conference but every conference since has been held on two days, Saturday and Sunday, occurring in late October or early November. Family Tree DNA has traditionally hosted a reception on the Friday evening before the conference and ISOGG usually hosts a hospitality suite on Saturday evening.

Conference registration is only open to current Family Tree DNA Project Administrators, Co-Administrators, and their guests. The attendance is limited to 200 so register early to ensure your spot. Previous conferences have had wait-lists when the attendance number is reached.

Family Tree DNA has added tours of their Genomics Lab on the Friday before the conference and Monday after. Reserve your spot early as the lab tours fill up quickly. You need to provide your own transportation to and from the lab. TIP: Do not wear open-toe shoes as you will have to wear disposable shoe covers during the lab tour.

Airlines and airport information

Most conference attendees choose to fly into Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) because it is the airport closest to the conference hotel. Some attendees have flown into Houston Hobby Airport and have had to hire taxis to take them to the Sheraton which can be expensive. IAH is a hub airport for Continental which was acquired by United Airlines so you may be able to get a non-stop flight for a reasonable price into Houston on United. Check other airlines as well though; both Jet Blue and Delta have good rates if you book early enough.

Hotel Information

The majority of conference attendees stay at the Sheraton North Houston Hotel and reserve their rooms using the Family Tree DNA pre-arranged discounted block of rooms. These rooms also go quickly so to get the room you want at the price you want, reserve early as soon as the conference is announced. Some attendees have also taken advantage of hotel discount programs like AAA or Sheraton's Starwood Preferred Guest program which is free to sign up for. The area around the hotel is generally a safe area.

There are a few other hotels in the area. Other conference attendees have stayed at the Comfort Suites Bush Intercontinental, Hilton Garden Inn Houston/Bush Intercontinental Airport, DoubleTree by Houston Intercontinental Airport, Red Roof Inn Houston - IAH Airport


Hotel Shuttle - If staying at the Sheraton, there's a free shuttle that runs between the airport and hotel. If staying at other hotels, call the hotel for shuttle information and transportation.

Rental Car - If you decide to rent/hire a car to visit tourist attractions, bring enough change for the toll roads. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States so renting a car is nearly essential for visiting area attractions.

Bus - Ride Metro Conference attendee, Trevor Rix, shared that in 2012, "We made good use of the Ride Metro public buses in Houston prior to the conference including a day trip to the Johnson Space Center and back all for $17 for two people over several days. The northbound and southbound bus stops right outside the Sheraton are named John F Kennedy Blvd @ World Houston. A bus day pass is only $3. The only problem we encountered was this year when our son was with us who visited the Space Center while we were at the conference. There are no public buses to or from the Space Center on Saturdays or Sundays."

Dining information

The hotel has a restaurant, "Basil's" and a bar. The conference package includes a buffet lunch on Saturday and Sunday and most conference attendees meet for breakfast and dinner at Basil's. Attendees sometimes arrange group dinners at local area restaurants and those who have brought cars will often offer transport.

Houston-area travel and tour information and tips

  • NASA - Johnson Space Center Tips: It's highly recommended you visit the Johnson Space Center at NASA. Part of the tour is conducted outside on motorized carts so bring a coat or jacket.
  • Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research One of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States. The Clayton (as its known) is closed on Sunday and Monday so plan your research trip before the conference on Thursday and/or Friday.
  • International Quilt Festival If your hobby includes quilting (or your wife's does) then planning your conference trip to include the Houston Quilt Festival is a must! TIP: Hotels around the George R. Brown Convention Center fill up quickly so book early.

ISOGG Hospitality Suite and ISOGG Meeting - FTDNA Chapter

Since 2005, Family Tree DNA has graciously included a meeting timeslot for ISOGG on Sunday morning at 8 am. The meeting is open to all conference attendees, whether or not they are ISOGG members. Meeting topics include subjects and events that are relevant to DNA Project Administrators and updates about ISOGG like the ISOGG YSNP Tree.

The ISOGG Hospitality Suite is held on Saturday evening at 7 pm at the hotel. Its potluck style; attendees usually bring wine, beer, pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, and other items. Especially welcome are items that are a specialty to your area. Its optional to being items or donate funds for items. As with the ISOGG meeting, all conference attendees are welcome whether or not they are ISOGG members.

Blog posts and compilations about past conferences