The 2016 OMNI conference 15-18 April in Florence enjoyed a high turnout with attendance over 40% up on previous years. Delegates were no doubt attracted by the location and venue, the Westin Excelsior in the centre of the city on the banks of the Arno river, and by the opportunity to spend quality time with the industry’s leading players.
The OMNI conference is a mixture of business and relaxation designed to provide the ideal environment to form and maintain friendships while getting things done too. The business sessions were fully attended on each of the three days and included a presentation from Eric Nicholson, a professional actor and professor of theatre history who helped to bring Florence to life with his unique mix of performance and seemingly limitless local knowledge; and Michael McDaniel from law firm Countryman and McDaniel who was asked back to OMNI following his informative and enjoyable performance in Bali two years ago. Michael represented the conference sponsor, Pac Global Insurance, and explained some of the precautions companies can take to ensure that their customers’ goods are adequately insured in transit and that claims can be handled smoothly and quickly should they be necessary.
OMNI also included a workshop session designed to give the delegates, all of whom were the owners and senior managers of the world’s leading moving and relocation companies, the opportunity of discussing the key current issues affecting the industry such as: risk and compliance, quality management, data protection and the changing landscape of the global industry. The session provided valuable insight into members’ needs and the ways in which the OMNI network can help to meet them.
Tonnage through the network is always important at OMNI and the top bookers, and those who dramatically improved their tonnage through the network, were honoured in the OMNI tonnage awards. Graebel was top booker overall worldwide with G-Inter (Central & South America), Elliott Mobility (Africa), Asian Tigers Mobility – Singapore (Asia), Alfa Quality Moving (Europe) and Kent Relocation (Australasia) each taking their respective regional trophies. Improvers’ trophies were awarded to nine companies with gold in three categories going to Writer relocations (India), Ziegler Relocation (Belgium) and Schneider Global removal Solutions (Switzerland).
Florence is, of course, an aspirational venue for many and OMNI made certain that everyone had sufficient opportunity to explore the city and its culture should they wish to do so. The hotel location made it easy for delegates, with an hour or two to spare between meetings, to wander about and really get a feel for the place. In addition, OMNI organised guided tours of the Uffizi Gallery, Academia Museum, Galileo Museum; local beauty spots including Lucca, Pisa and San Gimignano; and local wineries.
The closing gala dinner was at the Palazzo Capponi at which tenors from the Opera of Florence entertained and there was dancing until late. But, perhaps the most memorable evening was the visit to the Il Molino de Grace winery, the Italian home of Frank and Judy Grace who are owners of TEAM, a long-term OMNI member. Frank and Judy welcomed around 150 friends and colleagues into their home for dinner and to sample the produce of the vineyard. It was a truly magical moment.
The OMNI golf tournament was held at the beautiful Ugolino Golf Club that has been described as ‘one of the courses you should play before you die’. Bob Bowen from Crown Worldwide Moving & Storage in San Francisco won the coveted Paul Mason Trophy; with Simone Zeevenhooven from TEAM taking home the silver for the ladies.
Having come to the end of his two-year term as OMNI President, Willy Toedtli from Trafimar Relocation services in Mexico handed over the presidency to Keith Meader from Asian Tigers Mobility – Thailand.
OMNI is planning its 2017 conference in the Seychelles next March.