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FIDI in Geneva

May 13, 2016
The FIDI conference in Geneva during the second week of April was largely successful, despite Swiss prices that stretched even the more expansive expense accounts. The conference hotel, The Intercontinental, played host to the 600+ attendees (significantly up on last year) in some style with the food and service being first class


Although it was convenient for the airports the location was hardly pretty and some guests said they would have preferred to pay more to be nearer the centre of town and Lake Limon.

As always, however, managing such a large party has its challenges and it was only at the gala dinner on the last night that guests had the opportunity to sit for their meals. Some of the events also were crowded and noisy causing more than a few hoarse voices the following morning after an evening of shouted conversations.

That said, the events were well organised considering the size of the party with the visit to the Chateau Jardin d’Iris being a highlight for many. The Chateau, like most in the area, was a winery however it’s now famous for its commercial growing of the Iris which fill the fields around with colour in late May and are open for the public to admire. The FIDI 39 Club partied at the Club Chat Noir in downtown Geneva; and the gala dinner, held in the hotel, was a great success with good food and a fabulous band that kept some really keen people bopping until the early hours.

The business sessions started with communal percussion with delegates banging drums and ringing bells accompanied by a jazz duo. This, by contrast, was followed by the ubiquitous roll call. The plenary meetings were very well attended despite the trend towards IAM-style meetings from dawn till dusk. In addition to the General Assembly there were three key presentations: FIDI’s marketing agency presented a new logo, that they now call a label, for the FAIM programme and a content marketing strategy to increase brand awareness; lawyer Jean Francois Bellis from Van Bael and Bellis, to the discernible horror of the assembly, described the consequences of flouting antitrust laws; and there was a panel discussion on the imminent changes to the SOLAS regulations that will require all containers to have a declared VGM (Verified Gross Mass) before loading, from 1 July this year. Reports on all these business sessions are included here.

FIDI’s new adopted charity, Operation Smile Honduras, was at the forefront of the entire conference. The charity provides surgical operations for children in Honduras born with cleft lip and palate – a potentially fatal condition if untreated – and conducts research into its causes. Funds were raised during the event from the fun run, sponsored by Reason Global Insurance; donations from delegates; and even as a result of a superhero group who all dressed up as Superman especially for the occasion.

It seems that FIDI will need to rethink its golf tournament somewhat if it is to retain some of its regular participants. It cost over twice the normal green fee to play (the difference going to cover the cost of transport, trophies, etc.) but the food offered at the course was minimal and an extra €65 was charged to hire a golf bag with only four clubs. Could do better FIDI, sorry.

On balance though it was a good conference with President Rob Chipman and FIDI General Manager Jesse van Sas doing an excellent job of holding together the business sessions.

FIDI Conference part 2 - A label not a logo
FIDI Conference part 3 - The dangers of anti-competitive conduct
FIDI Conference part 4 - SOLAS panel
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