The largest annual gathering in the industry, Cruise Shipping Miami is now in its third decade, welcoming expert exhibitors, speakers and delegates from across the industry. With conference sessions split into themes, the event offers in-depth insight into a wide range of areas, as brand director Christopher Dauer explains.

What makes Cruise Shipping Miami an important event in the industry?

Christopher Dauer: The 2015 event is the 31st consecutive year that Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) has been held. It is the largest annual gathering in the cruise industry, drawing more than 900 exhibiting companies and over 11,000 attendees from 127 countries around the world. In addition, the event is covered by more than 300 US and international journalists.

Anybody and everybody who does business or wants to do business with the cruise lines either attends or exhibits at CSM.

Let’s say you wanted to start your own cruise line. If you came to CSM, you could find everything you needed to build, outfit, operate, staff and provision a cruise ship – from the paint on the hull to the buttons on the captain’s jacket. Not only that, every destination that is or wants to be a cruise port of call is represented, so you could even plan your new ship’s itinerary right on the trade-show floor.

Then, by attending the conference sessions, you’d learn everything there is to know about the latest industry trends and market forces, what sailing regions are ‘hot’, what’s happening in niche cruise markets, and you’d get the inside information on the maritime regulatory environment.

Plus, you could meet and network with a veritable who’s who of the cruise industry, from C-suite executives to shipbuilders, equipment manufacturers, service providers, destination marketers, and the movers and shakers who make purchasing decisions, build ports and design itineraries.

I can’t think of another event where you can do all that in just four days.

What new features can delegates expect at the CSM 2015 event and conference?

2015 is not so much a year of innovation as it is a year of evolution for CSM, as we continue to improve recent additions to the exhibition and focus the conference sessions along the thematic ‘streams’ we implemented two years ago.

In the exhibition, two elements we introduced last year – the Food and Beverage (F&B) Pavilion and the Cruise Trends Theater – are returning, with some enhancements. We are expanding the F&B Pavilion and we expect to have some exciting events staged within that space during the show. The Cruise Trends Theater, which I like to think of as a kind of TED Talks for innovators in the cruise business, will be back again with 25-minute presentations by exhibitors who are on the leading edge of change in the industry.

With regard to the conference sessions, we continue to enhance their focus based on feedback from attendees, and we continue to recruit the best and brightest participants for our session panels.

What benefits will the new thematic structure bring for delegates, speakers and exhibitors?

The thematic structure enables conference attendees to home in on those trends and topics they are truly interested in or that most closely apply to their own business. For instance, if you’re a marketer or travel agent, the ‘geography of tourism’ and ‘market segments’ sessions will provide insights that will be of value to you.

If you are more interested in the operational side, the ‘safety and ship operations’ and ‘cruise product development’ sessions will be more pertinent.

So the themes help attendees better plan their time at CSM to get the most out of the conference portion of the programme.

What do you think will be the key trends in 2015?

Key trends in the cruise business in 2015 will include the focus on shipboard communications and connectivity for consumers, the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and the burgeoning river cruise and niche cruise business. Operational efficiencies are a perennial topic, and the focus on cleaner emissions and fuel savings will be a significant trend for now and the future.

What are you most looking forward to, and which presentations will you be attending?

Unfortunately, as director of the show I don’t have time to attend all of the conference sessions, but I always attend the state of the industry session on the Tuesday, and I never miss the presidents’ welcome reception on Tuesday evening or the FCCA Gala Wednesday night. Otherwise, I check in on conference sessions when I have a chance, and I visit the trade show floor several times a day during the exhibition.