The two most uneventful blocks of time at a major conference are the first half-day or so before the event properly begins in earnest, usually with a flashy, exciting, get the crowd pumped up opening keynote by someone famous; and the last half-day where a slightly less flashy, exciting but not quite so exciting and not quite as relevant or famous as the opener, and meant to help wind down (what's left of) the crowd winds down the proceedings.
I'm sitting in the SHRM National Conference & Exposition Press Room, with maybe 2 or 3 other folks, in the former time block I just described, it is about 4 hours or so until Sir Richard Branson's opening keynote gets the conference officially launched. Now there are a number of pre-conference sessions and workshops going on prior to the opening keynote, but certainly the vast majority of attendees see the keynote, and the subsequent opening of the Expo floor as the start of the three-day swag-a-palooza.
So without much real content or news to mention, I'll just toss out a set of random notes and observations from #SHRM11 - Day 0.5 (before anything significant has actually happened).
Travel - man air travel in the US in the summer is a nightmare. Five hour delay yesterday, followed by three separate flights to get to Vegas only to find my room in the Las Vegas Hilton was essentially flooded from a leak in the A/C unit. At midnight last night that was not fun.
Vegas - It's hot. Stop talking about it. And stop with the 'What happens in Vegas goes on Twitter/Facebook' jokes. They stopped being funny in abour 2008.
Facilities - You know the 'wear comfortable shoes' advice you were given about SHRM? I hope you followed it. The LV Conference Center is a massive place. There seems to be lots of excellent wifi coverage here, in fact most of the wifi hotspot hubs have been crowded with people eating donuts, drinking coffee, and essentially doing all kinds of things you don't need wifi for.
Gambling - I love sports. I sort of like gambling on sports. But in the dead of summer, there really isn't much in the way of sports to bet on. Matt Stollak just told me he took the over at +8 on the Brewers - Twins game. I think I may find an MLS Game to bet on. Does David Beckham still play in the league?
Swag - Haven't seen much of the swag yet. Lots of printed materials for sure. And SHRM has set up some nice donation boxes for attendees to drop off unwanted swag items to donate to charity. I am not sure what kinds of charities are really interested in back issues of HR Magazine. But still, it might better than getting another gross of 'Miami Heat - 2011 NBA Champions' hats. And it does seem like every vendor is giving away iPads this year. My sense is that none of them will be dropped in the charity box.
So that's it from Day 0.5, check back soon for more dispatches from the front.