The SHRM17 Experience

Being a native New Orleans son, I’m always excited when SHRM comes to town.  I attended SHRM17, and boy did time sure fly by!  There is nothing like the food, architecture, and people of New Orleans.  It was certainly a great experience for vendors and attendees alike.  I met and spoke with lots of people and had many interesting conversations on the topics of people analytics and big data.  I was pleased to see quite a few breakout sessions on the topic of the importance of metrics to HR organizations.

If you are an HR practitioner and you haven’t been to SHRM, I highly suggest you attend next year’s expo in Chicago.  As a vendor, I’m biased because I would like you to attend so I can meet you.  As an attendee, SHRM provides such high-quality educational sessions it’s easy to justify the cost of attending.

Here are a few of my observations from this year’s show:

  • It takes approximately 45 mins to walk through all of the halls when you don’t stop, and the hall is closed to attendees
  • It takes approximately 3.5 steps for an attendee to walk past a 10-foot-wide trade show booth
  • According to the pedometer on my phone, if a determined attendee walked down each aisle of the expo from end to end, they would walk the equivalent of 1.9 miles
  • Vendors were split approximately 60% services 40% software (my crude estimation).
  • Attendee I spoke to from furthest location was India
  • was very easy to spot (they were wearing full length yellow jackets).
  • People REALLY like swag!
  • The most progressive booth goes to Viventium.
    • Viventium decided to save money by spending as little as they could on their booth and not buying swag.
    • They built their booth out of cardboard boxes! It actually looked really cool and modern.
    • And, they donated the savings to two local charities. In place of the normal swag, they passed out ‘I donated’ stickers.

In response to the challenges facing job boards today has changed their model and name (to

  • Nexxt has one of the largest databases of SMS numbers, and they have planned a new strategy around utilizing this information for recruiting

The high traffic booths seemed to be between competing HRIS vendors. Money seemed to be no object as they went through cases and cases of endless giveaways and had droves of overly enthusiastic and brightly attired booth staff leading raucous cheers. It felt as if I was at a pep rally.

I’m looking forward to next year and the opportunity to visit the Windy City.  I’m certainly going to indulge in a deep-dish pizza, Buona beef, Chicago dog, and….   you should too!

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