SHRM Global Conference in Toronto – March 30 – April 1, 2009

I had the pleasure of attending the SHRM Global Conference in Toronto on March 31st, and saw immediately that it was of the usual high standard of content and organization that SHRM is recognized for. Though the facility itself was large and not as well marked as it could have been, once you got to the registration area, everything flowed very nicely around that central hub.

Unfortunately I was not able to attend any of the educational sessions, but the session list indicated that the range and diversity of topics and speakers would have touched on many of today’s painful global topics. From: “A Survey of HR Global Ethics” to “Don’t Get Lost in Translation” to “Global Immigration Laws.” YIKES! I do not think that a full week of content would cover all of the issues that need to be discussed. What was important is that the HR practitioners could write their GPHR at this conference.

I did however walk the floor in the exhibit hall, and what I loved was the intimacy of the space. No one company seemed dwarfed by some of the larger companies that perhaps had a bigger budget. Even the big “M” job board/talent management company was a 10 x 10, table top in the row with a small global relocation firm. Of course the larger budgets were seen with the sponsorships of the breakfasts, refreshments and big dinner extravaganzas, but not in the exhibit hall.

I am sure you are wondering about the exciting new things in the Global space – well, there was no huge launch; no dancing dogs introducing the next best of the best, somewhat subdued I would say, however, I did catch a couple of things that might interest you.

The big question may be – “So what was the attendance like?” and from what I saw – not very large. However consider this – the state of the global economy begs for companies to be responsible with their budgets, and travel and conference budgets have been cut from both HR practitioners and vendors alike. My understanding from the vendors that I spoke to, the first night of the conference, the exhibit hall was very busy. The attendees came to speak briefly with the exhibitors, but the hope of the vendors was that they would return over the remaining exhibit hours. I did not see that happening on the second day of the conference. It was the only other day for the attendees to come visit the exhibitors and they just did not come in. SHRM tried very hard to drive them into that room – refreshments and lunch was served in there during the day. The educational sessions did not overlap very much with the exhibit hours, again kudos to SHRM for considering the investment of the vendors – BUT they just did not go.

Why? – Well here are my thoughts, and it could have been all/combination/one of these things:

  1. attendees taking that time to catch up at the office
  2. the sessions were so great that the conversations spilled out in the hallways after the session completed (I mean, how often are you going to discuss face-to-face with your peer from South Korea)
  3. Toronto is such a beautiful city, they just needed to step out to see it
  4. jet lag – catching up on those zzzzz’s
  5. needing that time for let the information for the session soak in
  6. they were preparing for their GPHR exam
  7. they just don’t need to go into the exhibit hall because a marketing savvy vendor will have all of the information needed on their content filled, SEO ready website and they will just check it online.

As usual, SHRM delivered – Conversations happened – now it is up to the vendors to make the investment strong – how is your follow up marketing coming vendors?

Posted by Rita Jackson

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