UNLEASH World, an event known for massive attendance and marquee keynote speakers like Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, has announced it will be cancelling this year's show. In a statement, UNLEASH Group founder and CEO Marc Coleman said: “Paris is currently prohibiting events for 5,000 plus people until at least September. We are therefore unable to work with our partners to organise the event to the scale, performance and standard that we aspire to. Our priority, as always is everyone’s safety. So, as soon as we can get back to a world of safe live events, we will look forward to welcoming everyone back to London, Las Vegas and Paris.”
He went on to add:
It’s clear from our conversations with the community over the past four months that most have strict travel bans for the whole of 2020 as employee health, safety, and wellbeing are, rightfully, the global priority for HR. This means the breadth of in-person networking and information sharing at the heart of an UNLEASH event can’t happen at the moment.
This points to an issue which is common across the industry: what is the value of a conference when there is not real possibility of networking? The glue that keeps the crowd captive enough for them to sit through hours of presentations is the social contact element, which includes being in a live audience which creates a very unique energy. One vendor, which holds its own annual conference reached by RNN said, on the condition of anonymity, that their organization "is looking at very different approaches to how we deliver content this year - no one is sitting through multi-day virtual conferences. That's a non-starter at this point."
One wonders if the folk who advocated for the use of Second Life in recruiting may have simply too far ahead of their time. Perhaps the age of the virtual demo hall and VR salad bar is upon us.
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