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Human ResourcesRecruitment

The Leprosy of the Recruitment Conference Exhibitor

By September 25, 20147 Comments

I’m looking for a little bit of feedback today from anyone who has paid for, stood at, and run an expo stand at a conference.  Is it really worth the time, effort and money?

I ask for two reasons:

Last week I popped into the expo stand area of the HRINZ Conference at the Viaduct Event Centre.  It was lunch time, looked good, was well organised and set up well.  I had fun doing augmented reality stuff on Adcorp’s stand.  But the overall vibe of the place was…well…dead.  To be fair things livened up slightly when a chute was opened upstairs and the end of a seminar heralded a flood of HR types to come down the stairs and briefly swarm into the vacuum.  But they had about as much effect on the energy of the place as an iPhone battery, and it soon died away again.

I once ran a stand for virtualRPO at a Sourcing Summit and spent most of the time wandering around mingling with people, because people don’t really want to come and talk to other people at a stand, do they?

The other reason is this brilliantly written blog post from Matt Charney, Shady Characters: The Performance Art of HR.  I do confess to being something of a Charney fanboy, but this dude can really write, and the truth he speaks is eye-watering in the discomfiture it induces.  He frames his points in a pretty elaborate way in this post, but the observations he makes of the types of HR Tech vendors that forlornly populate the expo stands of America is hilarious.  And yes, I do recognise myself in some of his characters.

So anyway, can any of you readers answer this?  I know many of you have been exhibitors at things like the CIO conference and CFO conference (where Hays and Robert Walters battled and pulled strings to get the spot by the conference hall doors).  Is it actually worth it?  Have any of you got value for money out of this strange practice, or will conference organisers have to hunt for new ways of adding icing to their ticket priced cakes and give up on this seemingly defunct practice?

And speaking of Matt Charney, he’s visiting Auckland on 17th November as one of a line up of impressive speakers at the “Sourcing and Social Event” #SST2014.  Click on the banner below to visit their registration page and as you’re a reader of The Whiteboard, help yourself to a 10% discount off the ticket price by entering the code RICE:

SST2014-Banner-ND (3)

Finally, thanks to everyone who came to the #RicePowWow last night, good to see some old and some new faces.  As always, good times.  Bring on the next Quarter.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Rob says:

    Hey Jon,

    I haven’t done been an HR/Recruitment exhibitor before but I have run a lot of stands for companies in a variety of other industries.

    Many of these events can be a complete waste of time and money to invest in and you can gain just as much benefit by going along as an attendee, networking with the exhibitors and other attendees.

    If you have done your homework and know from past exhibitors that the event is worthwhile then you will need a plan (stand design layout, competitions, lead generation, scheduling, budget, etc) and will need to work really hard to make sure you get some tangible reward for your time and effort.

    Happy to share tips if you do decide to go ahead and exhibit. 🙂



  • Kevin Chappell says:

    Having done them, but not for a long time, I think that speaks volumes of my view. Bit like going to a conference and seeing the insurance company stands!! I like your headline “Quick, avoid eye contact”!! Exhibiting today is outdated because there are much better and unobtrusive ways of getting your message through, and today, with the internet, people want to research and decide in their own time. I relate it to like going into a shop. Shop 1. Someone comes over and asks you “Can I help you?” Standard answer, “No, I’m just looking”. Shop 2. No-one comes over but shop assistants “hover”. You browse. After a few minutes, a shop assistant passes a remark such as “there’s more over there if you’d like to look” and steps back, or takes you over. At the time you want, you then speak with them. Most times you’ll buy. Lesson, don’t put people into exhibitions or simply use it to inform. Years ago, there was little choice to get your message out, but today we’re much more sophisticated in our “buying”. To be honest, exhibitions are really for tactile products, like home products or tools that people can pick up, or operate.

  • George says:

    Sore feet and a wish the money had been spent on a trip away. Generally found those who did turn up were most definitely not the ones I was targetting – spend the money on lunches instead – getting a no with some good food and wine inside you is better than getting a yes you don’t want at a conference.

  • Matt Charney says:

    I’m totally co-opting this quote. Thanks for making my day.

  • Derek Zeller says:

    Great read! Thank you for the promotion as well!

  • Happy to share several alternatives.

  • Thanks for the comments everyone, just found them all sitting on WordPress pending approval since updating to the new platform. Not very good at this blogging malarky.