OceanX network has concluded its #maroc2021 Live & Virtual event this week. While the ongoing pandemic once more limited travel for many of the 134 members in 90 countries, the network made the best out of the situation, combing a small LIVE event in Tangiers with a varied online content and VIRTUAL One2One meetings. An extraordinary LIVE experience and as much sharing as possible with those stuck at home. 

The circumstances 

Whilst one might have thought that a year after #porto2020 we would have been back to some kind of normality, 2021 held a lot of surprises again and the intended „normal“ event had to be replanned several times. With even the hopes for a medium sized LIVE event that we had over the summer, becoming diminished as we moved into autumn and first direct flight limitations being introduced. The concept of LIVE & VIRTUAL finally needed to have a comeback, combining a real get together for those that can make it and a virtual experience for those unable to travel. 

The LIVE event  

It was a great pleasure that despite the circumstances several members made the journey to Morocco and thus we owed them an amazing LIVE experience. Delegates arriving through Casablanca gateway, benefited from a few pre-functions there on November 23rd, such as a Moroccan Tea Party the office of the network venture NAVIROC and an evening out together in Onomo Hotel and the Grande Brasserie in downtown Casablanca. Before moving to Tangiers by TGV the following day, enjoying the comfort of the country’s impressive investments in infrastructure.

Finally arriving at the beautiful venue of the Hilton Al Houara Resort outside Tangiers on 24th, LIVE guests picked up their delegate packs including a hardcopy of our OceanX Shipping Guide. Then big smiles as delegates got together for a wonderful after sunset cocktail function with delicious food and great company. Many meeting again for the first time in 2 years, some not having traveled since spring 2020. 

On November 25th and our first conference day, the event kicked off with a network update by founder & director Ruben HUBER, who after an update on the market environment, summarised the activities and achievements of the network over the year, from the expansion of global coverage, to the various of the initiatives, be it the successful EDPx education program, the eCommerce project or the various virtual and real life events that OceanX has been part of, promoting its members. He also outlined the plans for 2022 and the announced the next conference for June 2022 in Switzerland, bringing members together at the networks home.

Rubens keynote was followed by an exciting presentation of Harm WESSELS from Magaya, taking a deep dive on Technology and its role in Freight Forwarding. Following an overview on the container shipping market by Stijn RUBENS of Drewry, the smaller format then allowed for an open workshop on the current and upcoming market environment, with members sharing their views on challenges and opportunities going forwarded. And the morning concluded with Julien CHAPUS of OKARGO outlining his view on rate management and the state of digitalisation of the individual carriers. After a beautiful lunch, we made use of the great weather on the day and went on an excursion into Tangiers Medina, visiting Hercules Cave and spotting over to Spain from the Cape Spartel where the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic meet. The evening was reserved for a culinary and cultural journey into Morocco, with a feast of delicious local specialities, local music and dresses. 

Day 3 of the conference, November 26th, focused on Cool Chain Logistics in the morning, featuring an update on changes in social behaviour by Alfred CHEUNG and a workshop joined by several Moroccan growers, fresh fruit producers, packing houses and industry institutions moderated by Alexander VON STEMPEL. An opportunity to learn first hand about the challenges on the front line, where agriculture, trade and logistics came together. The exciting discussions continued over another beautiful lunch by the Hilton team, which have been great hosts for our event. And the afternoon was started with a workshop on Innovation by Ruben HUBER, that triggered an exciting conversation among delegates with a lot of takeaways. Following some individual meetings of members in the Live One2Ones we reconvened for a delicious Gala Dinner beside the Atlantic Ocean. 

Saturday, 27th was then time to say goodbye for many, relax time for others and a beautiful seafood evening in the small seaside village of Assilah. Before starting the journey home on Sunday.        

The true pleasure above all were the many side meetings, personal interactions, discussions, debates, jokes and the sharing of experiences, which all had been longing for so long. A kind of refuelling, as the weekend brought back reality when the world (including our host country), started slowly to shut down connections again fearing the import of mutations. 

The VIRTUAL experience 

Apart from keeping Work From Home delegates in the loop (and jealous) by sharing pictures regularly, the event portal provided access to recordings of all presentations, plus some additional sessions with virtual speakers, like: Robert TALBOT of Bravotran talking on automation of the mundane to accelerate growth, Eva CADILLAC of OceanX 2020 Innovation Award Winner Searoutes outlining how to build a greener supply chain, Matt MOTSICK of RPA Labs showing how Automation is built for Logistics, Raghav of Freightify on enabling freight forwarders and Yaron PER of Comtainer on digital collaboration in consolidation. 

Monday 29th and 30th of November were then dedicated for more than 1,300 virtual One2One meetings, which are still far from delivering the value of feeling of real life interaction but do remain the tool we need to live with for the time being.  

See you in June 2022

As the conference ends, we return back to our home countries. Facing different stages of the next wave and waiting for what the Omicron variant and the container shipping market have in stock for us in the coming months, however looking forward to the next time we meet in June 2022 in Switzerland, not losing hope that the world will be a better place by then. Thanks to all LIVE & VIRTUAL delegates and speakers for an amazing event again! 

Thank you for a great conference!

About OceanX

OceanX is a non – exclusive global network of leading ocean freight providers and NVOCCs dedicated to delivering bespoke innovative solutions, in particular on FCL services, LCL consolidation, dangerous goods and chemical logistics, temperature control, as well as project cargo handling.

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