April 22 - 'Working Toward Recovery" is the theme of the 4th Annual Breakbulk Europe Conference and Exhibition which will take place in Antwerp between 26-28 May 2009.

One of the things that tends to hit hard when a cold wind blows is attendance at industry events such as conference and exhibitions, but is this a short-sighted approach? In addressing this tendency, The 4th Annual Breakbulk Europe Conference and Exhibition, 'Working Towards Recovery' will focus on ways to revive breakbulk businesses that have been impacted by the recession, specifically examining the challenges facing the industry and the most effective ways of working toward recovery.


Everyone has a view on whether attendance at industry events such as this is necessary, from the company accountant through to those that man the stand. The company accountant is usually doing his job in telling all the divisions to cut back on expenditure, and conferences and exhibitions are, after all, not essential, or are they?


Decline in conference and exhibition attendance has been a prominent symptom of the recession, as it is an easy method of cutting costs. The Breakbulk Europe 2009 programme will, alternatively, aim to save attendees from the blights of the downturn by demonstrating ways to tackle common symptoms affecting the industry.


Communication and the sharing of knowledge are both critical during challenging economic times. The Breakbulk Europe Conference will serve as a platform for networking between shippers, forwarders, carriers and other transportation providers, so that relevant industry issues and subsequent solutions can be fully articulated and examined. As most marketing and sales people will tell you, exposure in the marketplace is essential in order to generate leads and consolidate and expand business flows. Exhibitions are their oxygen. As for those manning the stand this task often represents the key motivating factor that makes a job, particularly if international travel is concerned. You can't escape the human factor.


The key is to take full advantage in making the most of the opportunities available. Tenacity is one essential attribute when exhibiting, stamina another and probably also what the English call "front" - that something extra that gets you in front of all the right people. According to the organisers' website, "The Breakbulk Europe programme will feature a line-up of key breakbulk industry executives and leaders who will examine the challenges facing this industry", offering delegates invaluable opportunities to network with leading figures in the industry and gain a deeper insight to strategies that will lead to success.


Other important basics include making sure the overall profile of an event is right for you, that new and relevant companies are attending and that if you are actually exhibiting that you have the right spot and are not obscured from view by a huge pillar! Exhibiting companies at this year's Breakbulk Europe event include BBC Chartering, Albacor Shipping, Beluga Shipping, Global Port Training, Nordana and The Heavy Lift Group to name a few. The full list and agenda can be viewed at http://legacy.joc.com/conferences/bb_euro/index.asp 


The conference portion of this event will be more cerebral in nature and will assess the current market and predictions for the coming year, while focussing on strategies to minimise costs and maximise opportunities. Companies affected by piracy will also benefit from discussion of what shippers and ship owners can do to ensure they are at least partially covered against liabilities associated with piracy.

In these difficult economic times, there are also two other influential factors - firstly, the potential of an event to positively impact revenue-earning capability and/or reduce costs, and secondly remembering that size isn't everything. There is a strong argument for the smaller focused event where the incidence of crossing tracks with the people that interest you is higher. The niche focus of The Breakbulk Europe Exhibition and Conference will allow delegates to cross paths with people that are of interest to them and will be able to directly inform their business agendas.