Annual Interferry conference explores “step change” innovation

Global trade association Interferry’s 44th annual conference will be held this year in London with a wide-ranging speakers program focused on transformational change.

Interferry CEO Mike Corrigan is anticipating record attendance at an event dedicated to what he defines as “the next big things on the horizon”.

“Our call for papers in March stressed that preference would be given to topics featuring step change as opposed to incremental improvements,” he explained. “I’m thrilled to report that we have had an overwhelming response, to the extent that regrettably we had to decline far more proposals than we could possibly accommodate. I’m confident that our final selection will educate, entertain and entice delegates to take a totally different look at their businesses for the future. In short, we will be exploring ideas with the potential to revolutionise every aspect of our industry.”

Two keynote speakers have been confirmed, including a return engagement for futurist and hi-tech writer David Rowan, founding editor-in-chief of the UK edition of WIRED magazine. At Interferry’s 2017 conference in Split, Croatia, Mr. Rowan headed a session on connectivity, which explained how digitalisation, data mining and social media were crucial in building the customer experience and enhancing profits.

Back then he predicted: “Digital tools can transform the ferry industry. Business won’t be the same and things will never move so slowly again.” The timing for his recall could hardly be better – it follows the recent publication of his book Non-Bullshit Innovation: Radical Ideas from the World’s Smartest Minds, which is the premise his talk will be based on, with a focus on the ferry industry

Another keynote presentation, “The future of ferries in shipping”, is scheduled from Guy Platten, head of the International Chamber of Shipping, where Interferry is an associate member. The London-based ICS is the principal international trade association for owners and operators in all sectors of merchant shipping and represents more than 80 per cent of the world fleet. 

The keynote speeches will be supported by a broad array of conference sessions highlighting innovation initiatives across the industry.

Senior executives from large and small ferry companies around the world will reveal how they are transforming ferry companies, while key providers in the customer service arena will report on tech innovations in customer service in areas ranging from terminal interfaces to billing systems to the internet. A major company will also present its insurance risk model based on analytics that could trigger a paradigm shift.

Various industry players are contributing to a session on the drive towards zero-emissions ferries. In addition, a global line-up of shipyards will offer their latest thinking on shipbuilding innovation for anything from fast ferries to large Ro-Pax vessels. Another cross-section of industry participants will discuss the future of autonomous ferries, together with a preview of the way forward and the potential legal ramifications of operating vessels with little to no human interaction.

Two key suppliers will explain innovative technologies for terminal berthing and bridge navigation, while telecommunications leaders will examine upcoming advances in IT and satellite networks.

Sessions will also cover regulation, led by Interferry’s Director of Regulatory Affairs Johan Roos, and domestic ferry safety which will explore Interferry’s FerrySafe program and more, tying in with a session covering seafarer training. Delegates will also hear from the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Both days of the speakers program will conclude with what CEO “innovation panel” discussions among leaders from a variety of ferry operators representing all corners of the globe. Delegates will hear their takes on what the future may look like for their respective companies and for the industry in general under the relentless pace of growth in technology and customer expectations.

CEOs committed to participate include: Duncan Mackison, David MacBrayne, UK; Niclas Mårtensson, Stena Line, Sweden; Supapan Pichaironarongsongkram, Chao Phraya Express Boat, Thailand; James DeSimone, NYC DOT / Staten Island Ferry, USA; Spiros Paschalis, Attica Group, Greece; Janette Bell, P&O Ferries, UK; Paul Luxon, Condor Ferries, UK; Bernard Dwyer, Spirit of Tasmania, Australia; and Mark Collins, BC Ferries, Canada.

The Interferry conference speakers program takes place on Monday and Tuesday, October 7 to 8.

Baird Maritime is a media partner of the Interferry conference

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