TFS Dubai is the first face-to-face event that Nils Walle, Director and Co-Founder of TFS The Freight Summit, and his colleagues had been able to hold for two years.

We wanted to hear his thoughts on the event itself and on the state of the freight forwarding industry, so Nils sat down for a chat with CCLTV presenter Nadia Dunn in Dubai, before the event got underway.

You can view the full interview here, but for now, we’ve summarised some of Nils’ observations:

Nils noted it hadn’t been at all easy setting up the event, with all the uncertainties around what would be allowed or how many people would be able to attend. TFS was originally scheduled for April but had to be postponed. The TFS team decided to take a risk and guarantee a minimum of 50 attendees, positioning the event as ‘Privé’ or exclusive/intimate. In the end, things turned out a great deal better than they’d hoped, with a total of 110 attendees. But, says Nils, most people didn’t make their plans until very late in the day, confirming their attendance within just the last 3-4 weeks.  That’s become a bit of a thing in a global pandemic, hasn’t it?

After so much enforced at-home time, anticipation and expectations for this first face-to-face event were high.  Nils noted, ‘Many attendees have known one another for many years and they’re so excited to be here to meet in person. But we’re all getting used to how we can greet one another and keep to the rules for mask-wearing and social distancing.’

When asked for his thoughts on new trends and developments throughout the period of Brexit and Covid, Nils observed that whilst virtual meetings were already a trend, the pandemic has seen a great ramping-up of this practice throughout business. He said, ‘We’re seeing a lot of freight forwarders much more ready to accept technologies, and more prepared to structure their businesses around work-from-home or hybrid home-and-office working practices, bringing much more flexibility.’

Another trend which has gathered momentum in recent years is ‘digital forwarding’. Nils feels that digital forwarding has a role today in off-the-shelf solution provision, for example, a transaction for a shipping container moving from Port A to Port B. But he notes, many clients require customised approaches and a more personalised service, which is not yet available from the digital forwarding providers.’ It’s our experience too, that when new services come along, it can take some time for them to mature. At the moment, there may be limitations in services which minimise human interventions, but that’s likely to change as the technologies develop.

Cross-border eCommerce is experiencing exponential growth, and Nadia asked Nils whether he was considering creating another network specifically for eCommerce. He said that in common with their other networks, for pharmaceuticals and cold chain, he would look to setting such a network up with a partner business. We’re wondering if any suitable partner companies might have emerged at the event!

We asked Nils what he thought of CCL TV’s presence at TFS Dubai.

‘I believe the various interviews were appreciated’, he noted. ‘Videos are great content for people to share across their own channels. As we all know, it’s all about content these days and anyone that creates compelling and captivating content can make great use of this to enhance their brand.’

Nils also had a valuable nugget of advice for attendees at networking events, to help you make the very most of opportunities, with the right mindset.  But to hear this, you’ll need to watch the video. No spoilers here – it’s worth a few minutes of your time.