Are you ready for Zoomidonia?

Jon Chaplin from Lucion Marine is dreaming of a return to Posidonia, but how different will the ‘pose-fest’ be when it resurfaces next year?

I am writing this at the dining room table because today, the piano tuner has converted my home office space into a latter-day torture chamber, steadily wearing me down with the unmelodious and soul-draining plink plonk of his craft. I can feel a migraine coming on.

Is it any wonder why, with lockdowns easing, thoughts are turning back to international travel, seeing friends and clients in Copenhagen just because we can? Or pulling the big case down from the attic for a week in Singapore? Or, and I say this with a sense of barely suppressed excitement, packing two-shirts-a-day for the expense-able pose-fest that is Posidonia?

(Yes, I know it’s a Nor-Shipping year, but somehow I feel that event could be absorbed entirely digitally, and maybe in the future, ingested in pill form, with your brain downloading decarbonisation and flettner rotor updates automatically from the comfort of your hytte.)

Getting back to Posidonia, before you log onto and dust off your Avios points, you might want to reflect on the almost unimaginable cost savings racked up during the pandemic thanks to a huge reduction in business trips, clients receptions and general merriment that is the DNA of every big industry get together.

Will splashing the cash on business trips, entertainment and physical advertising ever return to pre-pandemic levels?

According to The Times: “Analysis of financial records from Banks to Big Tech shows that the giants of the corporate world have saved fortunes on travel, marketing and other administrative expenses as employees worked from home.” Some, it says, have saved hundreds of millions of dollars by making travel-related cuts.

With savings like that, it adds, the question now is whether splashing the cash on business trips, entertainment and physical advertising is ever going to return to pre-pandemic levels.

So I am wondering, would it really matter if there were 50% fewer partygoers packed into the Optima Shipping Service office garden? If you have ever been, you will know that would actually be a blessing.

But what would it mean for your trip if the American Club, ABS, Clarksons, the Marshall Islands, GMS et al stayed away from Posidonia in their droves? What if your prized invitation from Angeliki never materialised? What if the Capital Party was confined to a single outside area at Island? What if your CFO hinted that your post-pandemic travel budget wouldn’t cover the cost of two tuna belly carpaccios at Ithaki.

And for those of us with a product or service to flog, should we be concerned about the prospect of a diminished Chinese, Korean and Japanese shipbuilding contingent who, through the process of trickle down, help to confer commercial relevance on the technical exhibition.

After a disappointing day of networking, would you go back to your hotel room, open the laptop and join a dreaded ‘hybrid’ Zoom social event, G&T from the minibar, your rictus smile thinly disguising an urge to end it all? No, I don’t think I’m ready for that.

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