Although meetings and incentive programs aboard cruise ships have been popular with many planners and their attendees for more than a decade, since the Great Recession the bottom-line value and other practical benefits of a cruise program have prompted many more planners to take a second look.
As a result, a landmark survey conducted by Site, in cooperation with the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA), and released last November, reported that 72.6 percent of respondents said they expected to book a cruise for an IT program over the next three years, while 52.8 percent said they planned to book a business meeting on a cruise ship.
“That report, and the fact that CLIA made a presentation at the last Site annual meeting, really tells you that cruising has arrived as a corporate choice,” says Jo Kling, president of Miami-based Landry & Kling Events at Sea, which specializes in helping meeting planners create cruise programs.
Although cruise ships have traditionally been used more for incentive programs, Kling says, “meetings are coming on strong now. And that has been especially true since the recession.”
The primary reason, Kling says is the bottom-line value.
“Cost is a very important factor for planners now,” she says. “Everybody is paying attention to budgets now. And being able to host a meeting in a way that costs less than most hotels, but actually provides more, is something that is becoming more and more attractive.”