Sunny Seattle? A recap of the 2009 WorldatWork Total Rewards Conference and Expo

The sun was shining in Seattle for the WorldatWork Total Rewards conference, May 31 – June 3, - a nice treat for all those who expected gray skies or rain. Some speculated that the nice weather may have contributed to the lighter traffic on the expo floor. Another factor, like most trade shows this year, is fewer attendees – 1250 this year, compared to 2000 in Philadelphia last year. The number of exhibitors was also down from about 180 in 2008 to 153 this year – obviously both decreases due to tighter budgets.

Pike Place Market The opening night was on Sunday, and the exhibit floor was noticeably quiet, even with the International Wine and Beer Reception. Many vendors felt that since there were no sessions on Sunday, many attendees were still traveling, or taking advantage of the surprising warm, sunny weather – visiting the first Starbucks and Pike Place Market.

But in spite of fewer attendees walking the floor, many vendors confirmed the information provided to me by a WorldatWork staff member that more senior level professionals were attending this year compared to years past. Many exhibitors I spoke with said the attendees who stopped at their booths were interested and engaged in discussion, truly wanting to learn more about their services and how they could benefit, and were often the decision maker for their organization. So, even though exhibitors spoke with fewer people than in the past years, over all they felt the quality of the prospects were very good.

A few of the work-life benefits and wellness exhibitors did comment that the majority of the attendees seemed to be compensation professionals, so they felt they were being passed over compared to the compensation consulting and software providers. However, most vendors admit that the WorldatWork conference is the best place for them to exhibit due to the focus of the event. It is a great branding opportunity to get your company name in front of benefits and compensation professionals.

A new company on the scene this year was The Oxygen Plan, an interesting personal stress management program that equips people to lower their stress levels and become more productive employees. I really enjoyed speaking with their team – Sondra, Eric and Shannon. Some other first time exhibitors included Purchasing Power, Caring Connections – a provider of end of life care and services in the workplace, and The Vitality Group , a health and wellness provider. It was also great meeting and discussing marketing strategies with people from MTM Recognition, Synygy, Winston Financial, Xactly Corporation, and Diamond H.

The WorldatWork show is also a wonderful time to catch up with many HRmarketer friends, including the WorldatWork team, HRchitect, LifeCare, Harris Rothenberg International, Compdata Surveys, Berkshire Associates, Decusoft, Halogen Software, SilkRoad technology, Hewitt Associates, Hay Group, Buck Consultants, Free & Clear, and many more. It’s reassuring that we must be doing something right (not to mention good for our company ego) when I walk into a booth and hear, “We LOVE HRmarketer!”

The trade show didn’t end for me when I left Seattle, as I discovered I was sitting next to a WorldatWork board member and session preAudreysenter on Executive Compensation on my flight home. We had a great discussion about the show, executive compensation issues and the HR industry.

WorldatWork puts on a great event, even in tough economic times. And Audrey Johnson, event organizer, again showed her pride with her flashy painted toes with the WorldatWork logo. We took a picture of them last year and could not resist showing them off again this year.

If you’re an HRmarketer member, log in to your account to post a review the conference on the Community Message Board under Conference/Expos Reviews & Comments.

We look forward to next year’s show in Dallas, May 16-19, 2010 - we hope to see you there!

Post by Jocelyn Cook

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