Swag at SMM: An alternative shipping confidence survey

I am a journalist so by definition a freeloader. In the three days and many kilometres around the 93,000 sq m of SMM in Hamburg there can be few greater signs that shipping is getting back off its knees than all the swag I have picked up from the hundreds of exhibitors at the world’s largest shipping show. Indeed, I’d go so far as to propose an alternative shipping confidence survey to what’s already in existence by the likes of accountants Moore Stephens based on the quantity and quality of freebies dished out at shipping exhibitions. Judging by my overweight luggage, my approximate metric would put shipping confidence at an eight- to ten-year high.

Somewhat disconcertingly now that I look at the picture above, which contains the filtered goodies that will make it onto the plane home rather than the swollen bins at Hamburg Messe, my picks are stereotypical of a hack: an assortment of drinking paraphernalia followed by urgently needed coffee and sunglasses for the next morning.

Maybe however I am getting this new-fangled sentiment index wrong. The handouts on offer this time could well be there to entice, to coerce and to bamboozle as a once in a lifetime bonanza looms on the horizon for many maritime manufacturers.

In my near 20 years of maritime reporting I do not think anything has created a greater challenge – and by extension a business opportunity – than the global sulphur cap. Yes, digitisation ran it close, but 2020 fuel choices were still the hottest topic across the 13 halls at SMM this past week. And unlike much regulation of the past there is no silver bullet, no one solution fits all to solve shipping’s great bunker puzzle hence the marketing on steroids of so many ‘solutions’ to the sulphur cap – the sheer number of inventions on offer merely adding to shipowners’ confusion on which path to take to be compliant come January 1, 2020.

Concluding I think it is important to once again acknowledge just what a peerless exhibition SMM is. Yes, it is not a must-attend for conferences, but as far as the actual exhibition goes it is unmatched around the world in terms of actually getting business done. Germany might not be the maritime powerhouse it was 10 years ago, but SMM continues to thrive.

Were you at SMM this week? Pick up some fancy freebies? Take a picture and tweet it with the hashtag #SMMswag.

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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