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21 March 2011 ~ 2 Comments

Genealogy and Gasoline Prices

At first glance, you might ask, “Is there really any connection between genealogy and gas prices?” And then you realize that increasing gas prices in the United States really have an impact on pretty much everything. If a consumer must allocate more money towards gas prices, then other areas of spending will suffer. In the alternative, the consumer might cut back on automobile travel in order to maintain current spending levels for other items.

But let’s look at the impact of rising gas prices on the genealogy industry and some possible trends to be spotted in the future, especially in Summer 2011:

  • A decrease in genealogy research trips. ¬†With the high cost of gasoline and the fact that most genealogy research trips are done via automobile, we could see a cutback of such trips. Also, some genealogists have already indicated that even if they cutback on the number of trips, they might take one or two longer trips rather than several shorter trips. This makes sense since consumers naturally migrate towards “combining trips” even when running errands around town.
  • An increase in ride sharing for genealogy conferences. Already two major genealogy conferences (FGS 2011 and SCGS Jamboree) have announced the availability of ride sharing via RideBuzz. This makes sense especially with many attendees driving from the same location.
  • An increase in online genealogy website traffic. Although it is difficult to determine this by looking at website traffic number for Ancestry.com and other sites (since there are many other impacting factors such as WDYTYA), many researchers might opt to fully explore what is available online before they set off on that research trip.
  • An increase in online webinars and meetings. February and March 2011 have already seen an explosion in webinars (see Geneawebinars for a list of upcoming webinars). So far, there has been no real impact on live speaking engagements by genealogy speakers. But look for more genealogical societies to begin embracing webinars and web conferences to hold virtual meetings rather than in-person meetings. Already, FGS is doing this for their board and committee meetings at a great savings to the society.
  • Higher prices for shipping online genealogy purchases. It is only a matter of time before we see shipping and handling costs increase when buying books, CDs and the like. This might cause some publishers to offer an e-book alternative that can be downloaded immediately with no shipping costs involved.

What other areas of the genealogy industry do you think will be impacted by rising gas prices?

©2011, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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