For the first time in almost a decade, I am not attending the Staffing Industry Analyst’s Executive Forum.

To rewind a bit, I attended the 2003 event at the Waldorf Astoria in midtown Manhattan.  I was one of the only vendors.  There was an all-you-can-eat sushi that actually tasted like sushi and not the stale cat swill normally found in first class airline lounges and country club mother’s day buffets.  The year after, I met the owner of a staffing business in Atlanta, GA who would become our largest customer for the next five years to come.

Seven years later, I was calling the shots on what kind of money our firm spent on these tradeshows.  That year I plunked down some $35,000 to bring myself and five others to the 2010 Executive Forum at the fabulously mediocre Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, NV, only a $75 cab ride from the strip.  My $35,000 bought me six coach plane tickets, three rooms for three nights each, a decent steak dinner for our crew and some very loyal clients, and a display space in the far corner of the exhibit hall.  

For those three days there were more nuns at sniffers row in the Spearmint Rhino than there were prospects in my booth.

For those three days there were more nuns at sniffers row in the Spearmint Rhino than there were prospects in my booth.  A show that used to pride itself on limiting the number of vendors so strictly that the attendees couldn’t tell they were there had sold out in the absolutely worst way.

It was a vendor sausage festival unparalleled in my career.  By cheaping out on the location, and not serving anymore sushi, the crowd stayed away.  Awkwardly meeting the other staffing software company executives at the bar whilst draining expense accounts was almost the only diversion.

This event failed for two reasons.  First, they didn’t stay true to their calling of providing a venue for staffing executives, vendor and agency alike, to discuss their businesses with one another in a luxurious atmosphere outside the auspices of an exhibit hall.  Instead they sold booth space.

Second, SI was purchased by Crane Communications in 2008, and they subsequently fired some really good people.  They may have had their reasons, but keeping my business obviously wasn’t amongst them.

So, for those of you attending this year, how's the show?

Tags: Industry, Staffing Industry Analysts, Trade Shows, 2010 Executive Forum, Crane Communications