Shipping event overcapacity

This week we’ve had contributors help cover developments at three shipping events around the world. There’s been TPM, the massive liner bash in Long Beach, the smorgasbord of events surrounding European Shipping Week in Brussels, and Digital Ship’s latest gathering in Copenhagen. There were plenty of other shipping conferences and exhibitions also going on this past week that we were either unable or disdained to cover.

Next week is similarly busy – a quick Google and I can count at least nine maritime shindigs in places as far afield as Montreal and West Africa. Tellingly, many of the events I quickly scanned through do not list their confirmed speakers.

Here’s the thing – not only are there too many shipping shows these days, far too many of them fail to deliver on their promises. This comes too as increasingly I sense a mood of events fatigue from those in maritime.

I am regularly asked for guidance from contacts, bamboozled by all the marketing guff from myriad event organisers cluttering their email inboxes. I have received more than 50 event marketing emails this week alone.

As a rule of thumb here are three simple things you can do to sort the wheat from the chaff. Look at the confirmed speakers and ensure that combined they control more than, say, 2,000 ships. If any speaker is listed with a ‘tbc’ [to be confirmed] alongside, take it as read that that speaker will not turn up and this is an event to steer clear of. Finally, look at the sponsors and then check to see how many of those forking out cash for the event are actually speaking – or worse still – moderating; one, or two max, is okay, more than that I’d advise you to avoid.

As a final point/plea, can event organisers stop sending me garbage telling me why I should enter their awards scheme? They should know by now what we at Splash make of these pure money-making sponsorship appreciation ceremonies.

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.


  1. Must admit Sam, there are too many and most of the speakers and topics tell you what you already know. I was in Singapore earlier this week where there was a Tradewinds Ship Recycling conference but i didn’t attend the conference as it’s only worth turning up for the evening receptions that offers a decent networking opportunity. Cheers

  2. Yes I agree – there’s far too many and in recent years it appears there’s also been a doubling of “green shipping” related events. I sometimes think there’s more money being spent on such events and flying people around than is being invested in developing technologies that will actually help make shipping greener.

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