Guide to the 42nd Annual Payroll Congress Convention & Expo

By Staff Report

Apr. 16, 2024

The following is a Q&A with Yolanda Ramirez, the CEM Manager and Exhibits Lead at PayrollOrg – the organization responsible for hosting this year’s Annual Payroll Congress in Nashville. Yolanda gives us the inside scoop on what attendees should expect for this year, how to get the most out of the conference, and what first-timers should know going into it.

To watch the full webinar, check out the video below:

Meredith ( First and foremost, I would love for you to tell me about some of the work that you do with PayrollOrg, also known as the host for the Annual Payroll Congress Conference.

Yolanda: I’ve been with PayrollOrg for just over 25 years, and I’ve been managing the expo conference for PayrollOrg pretty much that whole entire time. I work in our vendor relations department. I’m one of two other ladies, Susan Garcia, who is our director of vendor relations, and Diane Enriquez, who is our operations manager. So the three of us work on selling exhibit space, selling sponsorships, and just generally partnering with our exhibitors for either campaigns that they do with us for the year or things throughout as they come up, whether it be a webinar or paycheck advertising in our paycheck magazine or websites. So any of us can assist with that.

Meredith: How long have you been managing the conference and helping fill spots?

Yolanda: I would say pretty much the entire tenure that I’ve been with PayrollOrg. Wow. So, for the full 25 years, I’ve had my hands in the expo for that entire time.

Meredith: Amazing. So you’re the perfect person to talk to when it comes to tips, tricks, and little hidden secrets here and there. So, in terms of exhibitors like, how many exhibitors are we expecting this year? How filled out is the conference going to actually be?

Yolanda: We currently have around 75 to 80 exhibiting companies at the moment, and that is where we’re expecting to be hitting.

Meredith: So regarding previous experience on your end, Yolanda, what can one expect from the Payroll Conference this year?

Yolanda: I would say for an exhibiting company, they can expect great opportunities to network with our audience, and there will be opportunities for them to network one-on-one kind of not only inside the expo, but also there are networking opportunities that they can participate in. As for an attendee, obviously, we want them to talk to our exhibitors, whether they’re a current client of theirs or if they’re looking at possibly adding on a new service or product. There will be ample exhibitors for them to talk to. And, of course, let’s just say they’re working with the company, and they want to see what other companies are doing. Obviously that would be their opportunity as well, because I know there is a lot of exhibitor networking like exhibitor to exhibitor as well as attendee to exhibitor that happens on the show floor.

Meredith: In terms of any changes from this year in 2024 compared to previous years, is there anything to note that you’re excited about or anything that we should look forward to?

Yolanda: There hasn’t been a lot of change as far as the programming has gone. We’ve made some changes as far as our global networking. That reception previously was on the third day of the expo is now going to be on the second day of the expo. So that’s just one of the changes there. Other than that, there really hasn’t been a whole lot of changes to the program.

Meredith: For me, I’m personally looking forward to the costume contest!

Yolanda: Yes. And some of them get really, really into it. I’d love to watch them because our audience is super creative, and they can do some really fun costumes. And we have our categories this year as well.

Meredith: The categories are truly amazing. In terms of key themes, topics, and so forth, is there any overview that you can provide for key topics that will be covered during the conference itself?

Yolanda: Yes. So we do have educational tracks, and all of this information can be found on the conference microsite. We have our payroll thought leadership sessions and the OAR sessions that some of our exhibiting companies have will be teaching. And then we also have our leadership and excellence series, and then we’ll have some legislative and regulatory issues as well that will provide some updates. There’s payroll management operations that they can participate in as well. These workshops are going to be on the critical and effective operations of the payroll process. We also have our benefits and compensations track, obviously that’s going to talk about the compliance with benefits and compensation. And then we have our global payroll tracks, which is a ride spectrum of the payroll functions, risks and things like that, related issues for your global perspective. Then we’ll have a technology track and that is obviously focusing on the technology, covering the latest on artificial intelligence, blockchain, those types of topics. Then we have a professional development track and then we have PAYO tools. So that’s giving you how you can get involved with PayrollOrg, how to gain knowledge about our tools and our resources as an organization. So those are the topics that topics or education tracks that they can participate in.

Meredith: For first-timers, what sort of advice would you have to give for those who are attending the 42nd Annual Payroll Conference for the very first time?

Yolanda: I would definitely encourage them to possibly partake in our virtual orientation that is going to be held on May 3rd. If they’re already registered for the conference, they’ll obviously get the invitation to attend for that orientation day. That is a really great opportunity for them to get a bit more into detail about what they can expect. There’s also some really good articles that have been printed in Paychex. Actually, there’s one article that really helps them about how to prepare for getting the most out of their experience at payroll Congress. And there’s another article about what this person, this veteran, actually does to ensure her success while she’s there. So it’s very interesting.

Meredith: Great. I’ll have to check those out personally. So with the conference obviously approaching on May 7th, what are some key steps that you recommended attendees take beforehand to ensure that they get the most out of their experience at the conference itself?

Yolanda: We actually send out a lot of communication prior to Payroll Congress, so they should be receiving those communications already. If they are just starting to, if they’ve just registered, they should be receiving all of that communication as well. So that’s going to be a really great first step for them. Obviously taking advantage of reviewing our microsite, which is the, that has a ton of information on there for them as well. And then definitely try and make a Congress buddy that is really important. We’ll also have a conference app as well that they can utilize while being on site.

Meredith: Are there any materials or resources available for those who are registered, or even for those who have not registered yet and maybe planning on it, that they should check out beforehand?

Yolanda: Yes. So our microsite for the conference would be a great starting place and if they haven’t already registered, we actually have a letter that they can provide to their boss, just a letter that they can tweak to request attending our conference. I think that would be a great opportunity for them.

Meredith: Nice. We touched on the networking aspect of these conferences, obviously it’s just a big part of conferences in general, how do you recommend an attendee prepare for the networking opportunities to come?

Yolanda: That is a good question, especially if this is their first time. We do have onsite, besides the orientation, that will be done virtually onsite. We have a meet and greet that is held on Monday. Definitely think that would be a great place for them to begin their networking with their peers and things like that. That should be Tuesday morning, and I believe there’s going to be coffee provided there and maybe some light refreshments. I think that would be a great place for them to try and find someone that has similar interests as them.

Meredith: In terms of the speaker sessions, I know that there’s a good amount of people lined up, which is super exciting to see. Are there any specific sessions you recommend checking out? Are there any that you’re excited about?

Yolanda: I’m not too heavily involved because I am more on the exhibit side, but I do know we have a lot of great sessions. Our workshop selection has more information on that website as well. When they go to the education tab, they can select the workshops and things like that there, and it’ll give them a little bit more information about each of them.

Meredith: To close out, if you had to narrow it down to one or two top tips, actions or takeaways that our audience can leave with to better prepare for the payroll congress conference, what would those be?

Yolanda: Definitely take advantage of reading those articles and things that way. Go to the blog, our Congress today blog page that is also linked from our microsite as well. I think just really delving into that. If they know anyone that has been to Congress in the past, talk to them and see what their response is. But I know, I believe it was Gretchen who wrote how she prepares for Congress, so that’s interesting. She will be presenting as well.

Meredith: Yolanda, thank you so much for coming on. This has been super, super helpful.

Yolanda: All right, thank you!

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