The biggest international biannual gathering of the maritime community, Posidonia Exhibition, is closing down to the final stages of its preparations. The event, projected to be held in June of 2010 in Athens, is expected to be a success, despite the
international shipping crisis, which broke out just a few months after the previous fair in 2008. Hellenic Shipping News interviewed Mrs. Dimitra Michael, Managing Director of Posidonia Exhibitions. She kindly gave us some important insight into what should visitors and exhibitors expect from 2010's event.
Posidonia Events is getting ready for the 2010 exhibition. How far have you made progress with preparations?
Preparations for Posidonia 2010 are well under way and the feedback we have received so far indicates that it will again be a successful event, as even in difficult times like these, the shipping industry has to come together and make the most of the business opportunities that are currently available while at the same time renewing and reinforcing old friendships and partnerships.
Despite some initial uncertainty regarding the venue for Posidonia 2010, we have now confirmed that the next exhibition will be held at the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre, which our exhibitors prefer as their venue of choice when it comes to Posidonia. Especially during tough times like the ones we are currently experiencing, exhibitors want to feel secure and confident that Posidonia will be as successful as ever, and the fact that we are again organising the exhibition at the HEC provides these guarantees, as they have exhibited there in the past, are familiar with the venue, which assures high visitor attendance and their contractors are comfortable working there.
In terms of reservations and stands, how much of the available space have you already booked?
This year we started our marketing and sales campaign slightly later than in the past, but this was necessary as the shipping industry was still in a flux until a few months ago and our exhibitors were reconsidering expenses and their marketing budgets. However, as soon as we hit the market, it was good to see that old exhibitors were keen to participate again and new interest for the exhibition has grown. This is very important to us, as it proves that our exhibitors make the most out of their participation and that exhibiting at Posidonia is always productive, as it generates new business opportunities.
Most of the space has already been provisionally reserved or confirmed, and there is still a long way to go until the exhibition takes place. We are however expecting some cancellations, as some old exhibitors are facing financial difficulties, but overall we are positive that Posidonia 2010 will be as large and successful as in the past.
Do you expect an increased wave of interest from potential exhibitors?
We have received new requests for space from companies that haven't exhibited in the past. This happens for two reasons: On the one hand, after having done their market research they have come to the conclusion that Posidonia can serve as a platform for them to get business from both Greek and international shipowners, and on the other hand, many companies realize that their competitors exhibit at Posidonia, and therefore they cannot risk not being present at this event, as they risk losing business opportunities to their competitors. Therefore, we generally get a high number of new requests, which we try to accommodate.
Which countries appear to be among the most active ones in leasing space?
The major participations will once more be countries from the Far East, with China significantly increasing its size, while Japan, Korea and Singapore maintain their large stands and in many cases even request more space. China's participation especially has been increasing rapidly in the last two Posidonia exhibitions, and we expect even more companies from China in 2010.
Another positive development is that the Scandinavian companies are returning to Posidonia with national pavilions, as Sweden and Norway will be participating with national pavilions, and Denmark is increasing the size of its pavilion. We expect another big participation from Romania, which has only lately started organizing large stands at Posidonia.
The US, the British, the Dutch and the Turkish pavilion will again be major features of the exhibition, as they have been long standing exhibitors of Posidonia and always renew their participation.
When and where will the fair take place?
The fair will take place at the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre from 7-11 June 2010. The Hellenikon Exhibition Centre has proven to be a very productive venue, which is in an excellent location that suits both exhibitors and visitors and has allowed Posidonia to grow. Nevertheless our main target is to return to Piraeus at some point, and therefore we have made every effort within our power to assist the authorities in creating a new exhibition venue in Piraeus.
Posidonia week also includes other events, which are the Posidonia Cup sailing race, which is to take place on 4 June 2010, sponsored again by Lloyd's Register, the Posidonia Shipsoccer Tournament on 6 June 2010, which was launched for the first time at Posidonia 2008, and will be sponsored by Deloitte and Castrol, and the Posidonia Golfplay tournament, which will be a one day Golf event and will take place on 6 June 2008.
What's going to be new in next year's Posidonia, compared to past exhibitions?
A new concept we are trying to introduce is to have an honoured country daily, which will organise special events during that day to promote both its shipping industry as well as its global image and other advantages of this country, i.e. while strengthening the participation of its shipbuilding industry, this will also be a chance for a country to promote its local cuisine or tourism opportunities. We have already been in touch already with a few Embassies who liked the idea, and at the moment there are negotiations between the exhibitors, their Embassy in Greece and their respective government agencies to see if they can capitalize on this idea and promote various advantages of their country. This concept needs government support, and we expect some senior government representatives of participating countries to join the exhibition in case we do manage to have "honoured countries" during the exhibition.
A new event we are launching is the Posidonia Golfplay tournament, which is a one day Golf tournament that will take place at the Glyfada Golf course. Many of the members of the shipping community play Golf and this event will create new networking opportunities, and allow shipping people to bond and relax before a week of hard work during Posidonia.
Are prices lowered as a result of the financial and shipping crisis, or have they been kept at the 2008 levels?
We kept the prices exactly the same with the 2008 prices, as the current global financial crisis also affected the shipping industry, and this of course resulted in some companies reducing their marketing budgets. However, we do keep investing money into the exhibition's infrastructure and the services we provide, in order to make exhibitors' participation at Posidonia even more fruitful, without passing on these additional costs to our customers. We believe this is very important and shows our commitment to the continuous improvement of Posidonia, as we lack both a state-of-the-art exhibition centre and the support from the government, and actually do have to set up the needed infrastructure ourselves, since, as you may know, the Hellenikon Exhibition Centre is a temporary construction which needs modifications each time in order to host an international event as huge as Posidonia.
Do you think that from 2012, Posidonia will return to Piraeus? Is this development part of your plans, provided that the new exhibition and conference center will be ready by then?
Unfortunately at this point our return to Piraeus in 2012 looks highly unlikely. The reason for this is that the actual works on a new exhibition have not even started, and from information we have been receiving it seems highly unlikely that works will start any time soon. The issue is that we start sales for each exhibition during the previous exhibition (hence during Posidonia 2010 we will be receiving applications for 2012), so we would need to know whether the venue will be completed in time and have already some floorplans in our hands by June next year.
Nevertheless, we are happy to see some movement on this front lately, and we are in close contact with both OLP and the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, who are looking into the creation of the new exhibition venue. We have been in touch with them expressing both our needs and we will contribute to this project with our expertise and knowledge of the exhibition industry sector, and look forward to the new exhibition centre, as Posidonia belongs to Piraeus. We are quite confident that Posidonia should be able to return to Piraeus in 2014, if all obstacles for the creation of a new exhibition venue are overcome within the next few months.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwideο»Ώ