Q: Steven, you manage both groups. What makes them different?
A: The basic idea of both organizations is to add value to their individual businesses. Each one of the alliances delivers different value added benefits. While the GFFG is an exclusive group, allowing only one member per country, the WCM is a limited group with the membership of three agents per region.
At GFFG, being the older and more established group, the discussion focused on the direction of the alliance in the coming years.
The members of the Global Freight Forwarder’s Group (GFFG) and Worldwide Cargo Marketing (WCM) met in Hong Kong to conduct their annual assemblies. In addition to general biz leading to closer cooperation among the 54 GFFG and 50 WCM members, there was a fantastic atmosphere at the joint events. CargoForwarder Global spoke to Executive Director of both organizations, Steven Alves, and asked for his impressions on the conferences.
Q: What are you aiming at in the years to come that is different to what GFFG has done so far and that adds value to the group?
A: We are looking to implement an insurance program that will add a further level of financial security and also gives incentive to conduct more business within the group. Another issue we have put on our Hong Kong agenda is rebuilding our GFFG website since the existing one is sort of outdated. And we intend to integrate some social media in our website because more and more individuals and also enterprises use social media to efficiently communicate and foster biz.
Q: Delegates delivered some insights into their local markets here in Hong Kong. For instance, a member from Kuwait spoke of growing opportunities in his particular region....
A: ... and some others highlighted biz chances in Africa, Russia or the CIS Countries. These presentations enabled members to learn more about the extensive services in new markets that so far hadn't been covered within the group. As you indicated, our Kuwait member presented their full logistics services into Iraq and the neighboring region which was surprising because of the volume of biz that's meanwhile moving through Kuwait into Iraq. We are more than happy to have a GFFG member there that provides new opportunities for biz development into the region.
Q: Which new topics did the subsequent WCM conference table in your eyes?
A: We discussed new opportunities in Russia and the CIS States as well as biz development and biz opportunities in East and Southern Africa. The presentations of our local members displayed the multiple chances to tap new lines of business and to offer new services.
Q: Does the actual Ukraine conflict hinder biz in that particular region, which is a crossroad of traffic flows between the East and the West?
A: Yes, it is negatively affecting the business. The economic sanctions are having a negative effect on traffic flows into Russia, as some of our members expressed during both conferences. Every member I spoke to hopes that this conflict will be resolved quickly and peacefully.
As to Africa - the above mentioned regions in particular are experiencing quite strong economic development and up to now most members have been rather hesitant to do biz in that region. With the strong African agents that attended both conferences, we have a strong foothold and a lot of expertise in those markets that will help build confidence in the members to increase their activities in Africa. This was a highlight of the conference and was of great interest to the participants."
Q: Besides talking biz and the numerous face-to-face meetings were their other highlights during the four day lasting events that you consider being worth mentioning?
A: The social events, gala dinners and receptions provided a relaxed atmosphere for the members to further develop their personal relationships and friendships. This is an efficient platform for the members to personally get to know their business partners which leads to closer cooperation. So I'd say that these events are a valuable part of the entire program.