For the past few months, shipping professionals the world over have been booking their flights and jostling to get hotel rooms in Athens. Yes, the maritime industry will soon be descending on Greece – not to soak up the culture, but to attend Posidonia 2018. So, what is it all about? What is Posidonia and why is Greece so influential when it comes to shipping?
The Shipping Calendar
There are some events in the shipping calendar that get circled before all the rest –NORSHIPPING in Oslo, SMM in Hamburg, Marintec in Shanghai, and Posidonia in Athens. They are the biggest, brightest and most influential events – everyone who is anyone is there.
This time round, the focus is on Athens and the Metropolitan Expo Centre for the 26th Posidonia from 4 to 8 June 2018. Last time around in 2016, more than 22,000 visitors crowded the stands and attended the many events in the four halls and conference rooms at the state-of-the-art venue.
2018 promises yet more success and demand for exhibition space has been incredibly high, with more than 1,800 exhibiting companies from more than 90 countries. It truly is the global maritime meeting place.
Some companies have giant, elaborate stands. There are full ship bows, amazing mock ups of wheelhouses, and more. From the smallest washer and KVH’s compact, broadband, maritime VSAT solutions to the biggest propellers, every aspect of shipping is on sale or up for discussion at Posidonia.
For almost 50 years the international shipping community has gathered at Posidonia, the home of Greek shipping. The first event was held in 1969 and has taken place every two years since.
The first was very different to the vibe and atmosphere of today. Then, the event was held in Piraeus with a focus on giving easy access to the shipowner offices that dotted Akti Miaouli and attended by just 80 shipping and shipbuilding companies representing 15 maritime countries.
It then went through a stint on the old runway of the defunct Ellinkon International Airport. There is a joy to camping that can’t be denied but spending a week at an exhibition in a huge tent is not without its challenges.
How different today as Posidonia is held in air-conditioned splendor of a purpose-built exhibition center, just a short hop from the Athens International Airport.
The exhibition has been built around the fact that Greek shipping is perhaps the most important and influential market in the maritime industry. Posidonia serves as a bridge linking the international shipping industry with the Greek shipowners, who operates combined fleet of more than 4,000 vessels globally, the largest under the control of any national group.
Everyone is aware of the impact of Greek history and culture on the world but that doesn’t always readily translate into how and why modern shipping has such as strong foundation in the nation. Just how and why did Greek shipowners get so influential?
As the Ottoman Empire crumbled it was the Greeks who exerted maritime power in the region, but such halcyon days were short lived. The wars of the 20th century were hard on Greek shipping. The Hellenic fleet lost more than 70% of its vessels in the Second World War. However, it was not all bad – fueled by U.S.-gifted Liberty Ships and insurance payouts, a new breed of Greek maritime tycoon emerged.
These were the modern Poseidons, commercial gods of the sea. Aggressive and flamboyant businessman such as Stavros Niarchos, Aristotle Onassis, and John Latsis were entrepreneurs who were known for their conspicuous consumption and who were able to create very large and well-organized shipping fleets, especially in oil transport.
Those shipping dynasties continue to this day and have become even more sophisticated and diverse, branching out into numerous other economic sectors and providing a boost not only to Greece, but to global commerce, too.
The exhibition is not just about the local market, though. It also serves as the platform that brings international shipowners in touch with the latest developments in the shipping industry and offers them direct access to the entire range of shipping products and services available.
There will be pavilions from a host of nations (19 are registered this time around), all showcasing the talents, skills and offerings from their homelands. The nations include the U.S. and UK, as well as the usual strong showing from China and South Korea.
The show is truly a chance to let the world of shipping come to you. To stand in the aisle of the event is to see and understand what the business is all about and how seafarers, shipowners, shipbuilders, suppliers, maritime bankers, insurers, and more interact and work together.
The Business of Doing Business
Posidonia makes an essential contribution to the Greek economy every two years, with its thousands of visitors and exhibitors boosting the tourist industry and related sectors, as more than tens of thousands of people visit for the exhibition. It is estimated that some €60 million are generated throughout Posidonia week by exhibitor and visitor spending on hotels, restaurants, business meetings, hospitality events, stand constructions, transportation, customs clearance, and transport of exhibits.
The event promotes Greece and Athens itself as an ideal destination for major international trade events, and projects a positive image of Greece to the world.
Posidonia is organized under the auspices of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs & Insular Policy, the Union of Greek Shipowners, and the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, and with the support of the Municipality of Piraeus and the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee.
For all the wonderful stands and the glamour of the exhibition space – it is often away from all that where the real business is done, the friendships and contacts are rekindled, and new relationships are forged.
Posidonia is not just about the show, it is also about the parties and entertainment. The post-event parties are mostly concentrated in the seaside town of Oleagenin, just south of Athens, which is perfect as it boasts amazing, upmarket venues and sunsets to die for. The food is wonderful, the drinks selection impeccable, and there is often a tangible sense of excitement as business bubbles to the fore.
Brokers vie for commercial advantage, suppliers look to cement relationships, and the whole event floats on a cushion of optimism, vigor and drive. The shipping industry may be facing some challenges but at Posidonia, perception is reality. The game faces will be on, and business will be done. Don’t miss it.
We really look forward to seeing you there – the KVH and Videotel team will be in Booth 1.211, and we will also hope to see you at the various parties and events. Have a great time if you going, and happy hunting. Email us to schedule a meeting or stop by any time and we will make you most welcome.