Jon Chaplin, Director of Executive Search at Spinnaker Global, assesses the two kinds of people who attend Posidonia…
Apart from shipowners, visitors to Posidonia seem to fall into two distinct camps – those – let’s say technology related – centred around the Posidonia Expo and those ‘business service’ providers (bankers, lawyers, brokers, insurers etc) who tend to spend the week hanging out in Vouliagmeni. It has always been so, at least for the 15 Posidonias I have attended, but this year the divide seemed even more evident.
If you are wondering which group you belong to, there are 5 easy (light-hearted) tests to determine which group you belong to.
1. Where you stay
You stay at the Astir Palace / Divani Apollon / rent a penthouse apartment in Glyfada / stay with wealthy friends. If you’ve got meetings in town or want to name-drop the Laskaridis’ you pitch up at the Grande Bretagne. You rent a BMW to get you to Island and back, but are rarely sober enough to drive and end up abandoning it, parked 10 deep in a side road near the Yacht Club. You’re not even remotely concerned about paying Euro 480 per night, because “it’s POSIDONIA!”
Your marketing department booked you a room in mid-range ‘value’ hotel – you can’t remember the name – about half way up Syngrou Avenue. It’s flanked by strip clubs and is the Number 3 Stop on the Official Bus route to the Metropolitan Expo Centre. A big bowl of candies sits on the hotel Reception desk and by the door, a pile of TradeWinds sits alongside brochures promoting day-trips to Aegina. ‘I’ll definitely get out to an island next Posidonia’ you tell yourself. You love the fact your room has a balcony, but the sliding doors open directly on to Syngrou and despite being 10 floors up, you decide to keep them shut all week.
2. What and where you eat
You dine out at Matsuhisa (Nobu), Ithaki, Testaccio, Mythos or one of the delightful tavernas in Kavouri. You have a favourite table, with stunning views of the sunset and chat with the waiters. One night, you meet up with Costas, the S&P broker you have known for 20 years and he takes you to his favourite local place where you soak up the atmosphere and reminisce about those crazy nights together in Shanghai before the bust. Costas picks up the bill.
You pay Euro 11 for a slice of pizza and a coke in Hall 4, using up your coins, and pray the melted cheese and peppers don’t aggravate your Ouzo-induced indigestion. Despite eating all the pastries on the Dubai Maritime City stand, somehow you are hungry again in the evening. A colleague of yours, in Athens for the first time, insists that you go to Plaka, where you pay handsomely for ‘fish of the day’ and chips.
3. How you spend your days
You rise around 9am and take a leisurely buffet breakfast, outside but in the shade, as it’s already getting a little hot. You decide that you enjoy having breakfast wearing your shades. You consult your list of invitations and weigh up your options: a boat trip to a local island with FIG JAM Shipbroking (F. I’m Great Just Ask Me), drop in on Sam, Grant and the guys at Splash247.com, a seminar and Yacht Club lunch with your old school chums at the P&I Club, a conference claiming to set the week’s agenda dreamt up by a newspaper, trade association or IR firm, or simply hang by the hotel pool and see who turns up for cocktails. You wonder if your Turnball & Asser is back in the room, washed, pressed and ready for this evenings fun.
Your colleague in the next room rouses you by banging on your door at 9.55 because the bus to the Expo is LEAVING IN 5 MINUTES. You endure the 45-minute journey in silence. You muster a smile for the person zapping badges at the Expo, hoping they remember you from yesterday and smile back. They don’t. You grab your first medium Fredo cappuccino of the day and hope your eyes open fully by the time you reach your stand at the back of Hall 1. Your sales and marketing director is waiting impatiently for you to arrive as you have the only key to open the stand cupboard. You marvel at the astonishing number of expo visitors and wonder how they can all be connected to the shipping business.
4. How you spend your nights
Every night is Island night, the only thing that changes is where you warm up. You feel obliged to show up at the owners’ parties in case your competitor and nemesis schmooze your client away. And if there’s time you put in an appearance at that cash buyer / registry / P&I Club/Embassy do. You have heard a rumour that the Galaxy Bar at the Hilton is in this year, so you look in on the way back from seeing clients in Marousi. You inform your personal driver for the evening of your chosen venues and exchange pleasantries – he has a daughter studying in London, that's lovely – you ask him to crank up the aircon, sit back, check emails, and feel great!
All day you have been dreaming of getting an early night to and take the weight off your swollen, blistered feet, but FOMO strikes and you set off to Island in the hope of blagging an invite to one of the parties. Bored of waiting, your taxi drops you over a km from the entrance and you spend 20 minutes regretting your choice of footwear as you navigate the long line of parked cars in the road. At the entrance, you search for someone – anyone – you vaguely recognize who might have a legitimate invitation and prepare to be someone else’s ‘plus one’. After an hour of watching insanely glamourous couples alight from their Lambos and get waved in, you give up. Your colleague calls you – he’s also at Island but can’t get in either – so you meet up, summon a taxi using the Beat app and make your way back to the hotel bar for a nightcap. You stay up drinking unnecessarily until 4 am and tell yourself you had fun.
5. Who are you seen with?
You already know that being seen in the right company is the number one priority. Fortunately, literally EVERYONE is at Clarksons' party and there’s plenty of room at the venue for others to see you chatting, laughing with your new bestie, Paddy. Angeliki is leaving just as you arrive, but you have time to offer her a mindless platitude before her minder makes it clear – using body language alone – that your time is up. You spot Peter G. moving, shark-like, through the crowd and decide it might be easier just to WhatsApp him later. (You: “Peeeeter….’sup bro. you still here?” Him: "who is this?") You chat to that guy with the bulker fleet who was going to list in NY, but the timing was all wrong. You ping the photo of you two, cocktails in hand, to your mates back in London.
You get a selfie with the two actors dressed as ancient Greek warriors at the foot of the Acropolis and feel EXCELLENT. The next day, Alex Tsipras heads a vast wave of dignitaries crashing their way around the Expo. You turn your back, hold your arms and phone aloft and manage to get a selfie, part of the back of Tsipras’ head clearly visible in the far distance as he talks to the exhibitor in the next aisle. You Instagram it immediately #me&tsiprasatPosidonia #greekpmwasonourstand
Later in the week, the glamour models working on the armed guard supplier stand, walk past yet again and this time you pluck up the courage to ask for a selfie. They are very, very tall and it proves difficult to get everyone in the same shot and you realise you are looking very tired. Delete.
Nicos turns up and you have a photo with him, which he immediately posts on FB. You briefly consider getting to know Kenny, the TradeWinds photographer and follow him around, photobombing ‘A’ listers but quickly rule it out on the grounds of possible abject humiliation. You settle for artsy snaps of last night’s Greek salad, ancient monuments and deep blue sky.
You have probably guessed that I have foot in both camps and needless to say, I can't wait for the next Posidonia. Well done to the team and to everyone connected for putting on this truly awesome networking event every two years.