The joint conference in early November will take the place of Kennedy’s usual stand-alone conference in the fall. Anna Brekka, senior director of talent management services at Kennedy, said her firm’s decision to cancel its October event slated for Orlando, Florida, and hold the fall conference in Chicago with Onrec owes in part to the recession.
She said the downturn also put a crimp on Kennedy’s annual spring recruiting conference this May in Las Vegas. The event attracted just more than 300 people, down from more than 500 the previous spring.
“We certainly felt it like everyone else in live events,” she said. “Attendance is down.”
The recession—and with it corporate wariness toward business travel—has dampened the market for confabs related to people management. Case in point: the annual conference of the Society for Human Resource Management held June 28 to July 1 in New Orleans.
SHRM’s signature event, the world’s largest gathering of HR professionals, attracted roughly 6,900 attendees as of June 28, when business guru Jack Welch kicked off the show.
That attendance figure is less than half the final tallies from the organization’s two previous gatherings, according to figures provided by SHRM officials that were included in stories published by Workforce Management. In 2008, 13,435 people attended the SHRM conference in Chicago, while 14,922 attendees were at the 2007 show in Las Vegas.
To adjust to the times, HR software maker SuccessFactors switched from having one major annual conference in the U.S. to hosting three events spread across the nation this year. SuccessFactors also let people register for free.
A number of industry conferences focus on recruiting and staffing matters. These include events put on by Staffing Industry Analysts, a sister organization of Workforce Management.
Onrec hosts conferences on online recruiting, publishes Online Recruitment magazine and provides a Web site with recruiting news stories. Onrec.com and Online Recruitment were founded in 2000 by David Hurst.
Kennedy Information provides research on corporate recruiting, executive recruiting and executive career management matters. It also covers the management consulting and investor relations fields.
Onrec and Kennedy’s combined conference will take place November 3-4 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. Among the featured speakers are Dick Bolles—author of What Color Is Your Parachute?—and recruiting analyst Peter Weddle.
Brekka said there also will be an exposition hall with 45 to 50 vendors. Attending the event costs $995, she said.
Despite travel bans and tight hiring budgets, recruiters still have reason to gather and put their heads together, Brekka says. Some hiring continues even amid layoffs, she said.
What’s more, recruiters face the prospect of sifting through a flood of résumés with fewer colleagues to help shoulder the burden.
“There are a lot of time-management questions to be solved,” Brekka said. And the thorny issue of showing a return on HR and recruiting investments has grown more pressing, she said.
“There’s still a lot to talk about,” Brekka said.