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FIDI in San Diego

May 10, 2018
A report by Steve Jordan.

Some might say that it was remarkable that the FIDI conference took place at all this year, after the double switch of venue – Rio – Puerto Rico – San Diego, but it did.  And I must congratulate the team for doing an excellent job under very difficult circumstances.  Numbers were down a fraction, probably due to the uncertainty over the venue and the close proximity to Easter which is an important family time for many, but FIDI still put on a fine event. 

The hotel was the iconic Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island, just across the water from downtown San Diego.  The Del, as it’s locally called, was built in the 1880s, making it of some historic significance and has been the retreat of the famous throughout its life and the location for the 1959 Billy Wilder movie, Some like it hot.  Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Jane Russell, Peter O’Toole and Ronald Reagan, amongst many others, all called The Dell home at some time. 

As a conference venue it worked well.  The meeting rooms were splendid, especially the timber-clad Crown room in which the delegates met to chat and eat lunch; and the magnificent ballroom, with panoramic views over the beach and Pacific Ocean that was home to the plenary meetings. Some said the rooms in the old part of the hotel were too small; some said the hotel looked worn; for me it all just added to the character of the place. I particularly enjoyed the gold-painted, manually operated lift, especially when Andrew was on duty.  He had worked the lift for 38 years, was almost 1000 years old and took great pleasure in trying (and failing) to remember everyone’s names.  Brilliant chap! The lift didn’t work all the time of course, it was almost as old as Andrew, so that made checking out from the fifth floor more exciting than usual. 

The business sessions at FIDI were very good.  Jamil Qureshi, a motivational speaker, returned to FIDI after his debut in Dubai.  Once again, I really enjoyed his performance but was less sure of the overall message (see page 32).  That said, many of the delegates told me that he had really chimed their bells and they found both his presentation and the subsequent workshop session he chaired, very helpful.  

There were two panel discussions: one looking at the relationship between movers and RMCs, with Cartus, ARC and BRGS all taking part to explore ways of smoothing the process for mutual benefit.  During the discussion on technology, blockchain was heralded as the next major change.  If you remember, I told you it would (see The Mover, July 2017, page 8).  The second discussion threatened to be a little more animated as Don Fisher, who runs an auditing company that vets invoices from movers for payment, faced questioning from three panel members and Jesse van Sas.  It was a fascinating discussion but, as it turned out, he adeptly navigated the questioning, and the audience played their cards very close rather than asking Don any awkward, and perhaps commercially ill advised, questions (see page 30).  The Mover has asked Mr Fisher for an interview, which might be more revealing, sometime soon. 

The social events were well done, as always, however they were all outside and the San Diego chill had some of the guests running for cover, especially at the welcome cocktail party when some of the ladies found huddling around the gas heaters to be the most comfortable place.   That said, the garden patio was still full of guests long after the bar had closed so they can’t have been that uncomfortable.  The weather had warmed a little for the gala dinner on the beach on the last night: evening dress and a buffet on sand was an unusual combination, but I heard few complaints and the sweet, crumble and ice cream, was exquisite.  

2018 represents the 30th anniversary of the FIDI Academy created by Jean Pierre, Lars Östman and Colin Quarrington.  The first seminar had 25 people attending and the FIDI Academy subsequently brought thousands of people together from all over the world to learn from experts and from each other.  Last year 2400 people took part in FIDI courses. Ernst Jörg, FIDI Past President, took the opportunity to stand down as the Dean of the FIDI Academy after many years of service.  Chantal Fera, the Academy Manager, said that every year they offer at least two new products, either webinars or e-learning.  “Nowhere in the world with our affiliates find industry-related training at such a low cost and flexible options and worldwide coverage,” she said. 

FIDI showed a new video, celebrating 30 years of the FIDI Academy, featuring the founder of the FIDI Academy Jean Pierre; Brian Charles, a former Academy trainer; Michael Scott (former head of the FIDI office and responsible for the FIDI Academy until 2000); Ernst Jörg; Jesse van Sas; Chantal Fera; and Freddy Paxton, FIDI President. An excellent production and tribute to those who have worked on behalf of the Academy over many years.  



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