Sourcing Forum collapses
The blossoming outsourcing media and communications industry took a knock in October when the last-minute cancellation of the Global Sourcing Forum 2010 saw hundreds of attendees and sponsors left stranded in New York and the event’s organisers, OutsourceWorld, seeking bankruptcy protection. Those planning to attend the two-day event – including international sponsor-delegations, some of whom had spent tens of thousands of dollars on their presence at the conference – only found out about its cancellation after rumours began circulating that the venue, the Times Square Marriott Marquis, had pulled the plug “because the client could not meet the terms of the contract” (in the words of a Marriott spokesperson).
David Etzler, the CEO of OutsourceWorld, referred all questions following the debacle to his lawyer, Philip Landau, who confirmed that the company was looking for bankruptcy protection and would go into liquidation. Landau placed responsibility for the event’s collapse with the last-minute withdrawal of a number of major supporters whose funding was due to be used to pay the venue.
“OutsourceWorld couldn’t then make the payment to the Marriott… It’s in essence a domino effect,” Landau said.
Around 70 would-be delegates did get some value out of their trip to New York after Frank Casale, CEO of the Outsourcing Institute, was able to arrange an alternative day-long event at very short notice, winning plaudits from many of those able to attend. Indeed, the event – featuring a keynote from Horses for Sources head honcho Phil Fersht – was so successful that Casale hasn’t ruled out setting up a larger-scale follow-up for next year in the absence of the presumably-now-defunct GSF event.
“My initial response was pure astonishment as this was only several business days before the actual conference. My feelings began to shift to concern as I found out about the many people that had already travelled to NYC and were essentially stuck – all dressed up and nowhere to go. It seemed a bit crazy but I wondered if my team could scramble to put sometime together. I thought if anyone could do it we could,” Casale said.
Esteban Herrera, SVP, HfS Research
“The spectacular and outrageous crash of the GSF event, an extreme example of unethical behaviour in the conference business, did highlight the power of the networking and social media in the outsourcing industry. With barely 48 hours between idea and execution, leveraging a vast network and the power of platforms like Horses for Sources and the Outsourcing Institute, a free event with about 75 attendees sprung out of nothing. Frank Casale marshaled his resources and his connections and delivered an informative day that rescued the investment of would-be conference attendees.”