Event fatigue

So another Singapore Maritime Week fades away. What a week it was – almost impossible for anyone to keep up with.

Esben Poulsson, the honorary chairman of the Singapore Shipping Association, quipped at the Moore Stephens-organised Singapore Shipping Forum last Thursday that he needed to be in three places at once through much of last week, given how much was going on.

A glance at a shipping events calendar shows there’s plenty more weeks like this one coming up. Suddenly, it seems shipping hubs around the world think a maritime week is the way to go to help cement their credentials.

It comes at a time where the industry as a whole is suffering from event fatigue – there are far too many shipping conferences as it stands, the vast majority of which fail to deliver on what they promise.

Very noticeable at many of the events last week was the former head of Neptune Orient Lines (NOL). Flemming Jacobs was back in town promoting the second edition of Danish Maritime Days, Copenhagen’s answer to Singapore Maritime Week. On top of that you have this September the second edition of London International Shipping Week, while I am reliably informed that this March’s inaugural European Shipping Week in Brussels was a big success.

All of these new maritime shows come at a time where anecdotally I continue to hear top executives have less and less willingness to spend their valuable time in conference halls. The maritime weeks also stack up against well-established events in key shipping centres – Posidonia in Athens, SMM in Hamburg, CMA in America, Marintec China in Shanghai – and just five weeks away, Nor-Shipping in Oslo.

Singapore’s tenth maritime week was its biggest ever – my depleted business card boxes and panda eyes evidence of a successful few days. Other hubs around the world will have their work cut out engendering the same level of enthusiasm.

On all these new shipping weeks, Poulsson told me: “Imitation is the best form of flattery. I wish them all good luck.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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