#SHRM18 Vendors, Swag and a Few Extras



So here is a last stab at maximizing your 2018 SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition experience. Today’s post is about maximizing time at the exposition hall and after hours.

The vendor exposition hall is available Sunday thru Tuesday. My suggestion is walk the floor for fun Sunday after the main session and choose one-time Monday or Tuesday to gather up your swag and extras. Hopefully you will have some extra room in your suitcase to drag the extras home. You also do not want to be dragging swag around to parties or dinner.

Also, plan for demos. Some can be done in 15 or 20 minutes; others are considerably longer.  I personally like to set up time before or after the conference to really talk to vendors I am interested in. Then again, you never know what great software, product or service you might encounter that can help your organization. So be flexible.

Most popular conference “Swag”

Most vendor’s give something away for stopping by. Here is my list of most popular stuff to jam in your suitcase for the trip home:

Phone wallet (you know those things you stick on back of your phone for business and credit cards)

Water bottles

Tote bags

Lip balm (I never buy balm anymore, I just grab a couple at every conference I attend)

USB charger


Breath mints

Food/Drink (alcohol optional! and usually only on Sunday night)

Product samples

Audio devices (usually earbuds)



Have you started to receive postcards and mailers to your home or office? Here are the most popular raffle enticements to try out software and listen to a quick sales pitch:


Alexa/Google home

Gift certificates

Product freebies (usually intro packages)

Entertainment/Happy Hours

While there may not be as many over-the-top vendor parties, you’ll want to see the Tuesday night show with Pentatonix.  This year’s offerings are more sophisticated and include art museums, jazz clubs and upscale restaurants. Yes, there are several happy hours, a few dinners and a couple of after-hours invite-only activities for those in-the-know.  For first-timers, watch social media and talk to your vendors Sunday on the trade show floor to get your name on the coveted guest lists. A few are already closed, but there are enough choices (especially Monday night). Don’t forget to bring some aspirin for the morning just in case you have too much fun.  What’s too much fun?  How about DJ Jazzy Jeff at House of Blues in 2013…now that was a super cool party and the Career Builder party in New Orleans a few years back. I still haven’t fully recovered from those experiences.

Going it on your own

Some folks like to do their own thing at conferences and get away from the crowds. Chicago has it all, the Cubs vs. the Dodgers, deep dish pizza, comedy and music clubs, and a great art and cultural scene. I am coming in a little earlier than normal this year and will explore Chicago Saturday night.  I might even catch Robert Plant in concert Sunday night with a couple of friends. The rest of the time will be SHRM TIME!

So, I hope this helped and say, “hi” when you see me in Chicago. Oh, I almost forgot to mention my SHRM18 mega session on Monday at 7:00 a.m. and my Smart Stage presentation on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. Well I hope to see you at one or both as well.

Safe travels!!!


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