Maritime conferences slammed

Organisers of maritime conferences have been sent a stern message today to buck up and make their events more relevant and worth people’s time. In an ongoing survey carried on this site 45% of the more than 500 voters to date say they have never been to a shipping conference that proved to be a fantastic use of their time.

The question, one of eight posed in our quarterly MarPoll, was sparked following plenty of reader reaction to a contribution from last month penned by Marcus Magee, managing director of new agency Uncommon Conferences, in which he demanded a shake-up to the current staid shipping calendar.

“Conferences these days have no end goal. There is no assistance in getting people to actually connect with one another in order to solve any problems or goals. They’re a pony show for the sponsor to show off and boast about themselves and to give very flat awards to people who have lined the pockets of organisers. It really has turned into a waste of time,” one reader commented.

Another Splash reader had some suggestions for how to fix the current conference malaise.

“It’s not a difficult fix,” the voter argued. “No speeches, all panels. Maximum of three/four panellists. Questions that haven’t been pre-screened or chosen, and a moderator who’s not afraid to challenge the panellists. Auto-mute a speaker’s microphone after 30 seconds to prevent tedious soliloquies. Vetting of speakers to ensure they know their subject, and can speak coherently without notes. A strong preference for people without ‘Sales’ or ‘Business Development’ in their title. Have a greater diversity of speakers (generation, nationality, gender, sector, viewpoint etc.)”

Results of the latest MarPoll will be published in the next issue of Maritime CEO magazine, due out early next month.

Other topics covered in our latest survey include the availability of ship finance and the best secondhand ship investment.

To vote takes as little as two minutes and there is no registration. To vote, click here.


Splash is Asia Shipping Media’s flagship title offering timely, informed and global news from the maritime industry 24/7.


  1. Completely agree! Far too many ‘conferences’ with the same talking heads spouting the same rubbish to the largely same audience. Maritime conferences are there to make money for the organizers and 95% of them are irrelevant!

    1. Whilst it’s definitely the case organisers need to make money – events are surprisingly expensive to run – there’s no excuse for banal content that doesn’t deliver new insights or encourage debate, the inclusion of which would entice new participants. Our aim is to change all that by starting with the “why” of event before anything else, making sure it delivers on a clear purpose.

  2. It has always been thus…….Huge fees to attend and then listen to the same self-indulgent wannabes. The whole maritime conference industry has grown to become self-serving and overblown.
    The cost to attend one of these jamborees can run into thousands of Euros/ Dollars (hotels, travel, conference fees) and one has to ask what is the return on the investment? Networking is rarely a justification (as the organisers claim), and learning new stuff usually only happens when hearing about subjects outside one’s own expertise anyway.

    1. Definitely hear you Martyn. We too feel the ‘pain’, as regular attendees at events ourselves. The solutions aren’t rocket science though , and it starts with thorough research of what the market actually wants and needs, in order to advance and develop. A clearer understanding of this will invariably deliver the new insights everyone craves, as well as attract new audience participants – especially those who shun the cookie-cutter events that are usually on offer.

  3. Those who completed the poll clearly did NOT attend last year’s SHIPPINGInsight conference in Stamford. Our (anonymous) after event survey showed 97% found it useful; 96% said it had value; 95% appreciated the networking experience and 98% enjoyed the roundtable discussions. Nearly 80% plan to return in October- you are welcome to join them!

  4. Hi Sir
    My idea is different. I wish seek an investor provide loan or partnership to start shipping in Solomon Islands a 3rd world country or developing country mainly help rural areas trade. Any assistance I can get to contact investor through embassies and consulates? Solomon Islands invites investors in all sectors to improve economy and reduce unemployment.
    So mine is in shipping.
    Much regards and thank you for your attention.

  5. Most maritime conferences that I have attended have not added much knowledge or value. It is usually a ” meet and greet affair”. The cocktails and dinner afterwards is also a big bore.

    1. Yes, it’s a common problem with events Sanjiv, given today’s information access. But a conference isn’t just about being presented “new” information. Instead conferences should be opening a dialogue between market participants, with the “added-value” being the outcomes of such discussions. This is the true role of an invited speaker in our view. And whilst networking is a key benefit of events, you are correct – they could be done in ways that are more effective for the participants!

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