IT&CMA 2018 will debut the region’s first-ever Asian MICE Cruise Conference on September 18 as part of the show’s three-day business, education and networking programme.
Confirmed opinion leaders taking the stage include Dream Cruises’ president and Crystal Cruises Asia’s managing director, Thatcher Brown; Royal Caribbean Cruises’ managing director Angie Stephen; Worldwide Cruise Associates’ co-founder and president, Steve Bloss; Genting Cruise Lines’ senior vice president – international sales, Michael Goh; Silversea Cruises’ vice president, corporate & incentive sales, Freddy Muller; and Princess Cruises’ Southeast Asia director, Farriek Tawfik.
Said Karen Yue, editor of TTGmice and group editor of TTG Travel Trade Publishing: “The cruise industry is booming and MICE is undoubtedly the next big thing for the sector. Market leaders are already capitalising on the potential, while many are still coming into the game. TTGmice is proud to put forth this first and only platform of its kind in the region – an open conversation with the world’s leading cruise executives.”
Kicking off IT&CMA’s education highlights on its first day, this half-day event at the Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld will feature an intense panel discussion led by cruise CEOs and an experts’ exchange on making the case for MICE cruises, among other sessions, as well as networking opportunities at its hosted breakfast, coffee break and luncheon.
On the motivation behind this conference, Darren Ng, managing director of TTG Asia Media said: “As a pioneer in the business events industry, TTG is always at the pulse of key developments impacting the profession. Cruise offers a huge playing field for its many stakeholders, where its potential rests on the immense collaboration between the private and public sector across verticals and geographies to ensure that the right policies, infrastructure, facilities, producs and services are in place.”
Organisers therefore expect 400 regional MICE stakeholders relevant to the cruise sector to attend, with at least half of attendees comprising of buyers covering corporate incentive, meetings and events, incentive trips, luxury travel, associations and academics. Hotels, resorts, airlines, destination management companies, government representatives from national tourism organisations, convention visitor bureaus and ports, and media professionals will form the remaining audience profile.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2017 Asia Cruise Trends, cruise capacity across all metrics (number of ships, voyages, operating days and passengers) has increased significantly since 2013 with greater uptrend expected in the foreseeable future. Asia remains at the heart of this growth with passengers from this region quadrupling over 5 years. Last year, passenger capacity was estimated at 4.24 million.
While leisure cruise demand has seen a revival, the concept of cruises as an appealing and viable option for business events is still relatively new. Shared panelist Tawfik of Princess Cruises: “Today, there is low awareness among organisers and companies that MICE events can be organised easily and held successfully onboard cruise ships. As a possible budget-saving, all-inclusive alternative to hosting a meeting at a luxury resort, cruises also offer plenty of interaction and teambuilding opportunities, as well as a unique experience to give delegates that “wow” factor, such as waking up in a new country every day while only needing to pack and unpack once. The advantages of a MICE event at sea are endless.”
Bloss of Worldwide Cruise Associates echoes the perspective that greater exposure is needed for MICE cruises. He said: “As a collective, we strive to foster understanding of what a modern cruise ship is, and make purchasers aware of how to buy cruises while embracing cruises’ different terms and requirements. Today, there are over 55 cruise lines, some 400 ships plus 100 new ships in the pipeline. It is possible to have an unbiased all-in-one cruise shopping experience with options that extend globally.”
In addition to being part of the inaugural conference’s panel, the organisation is also exhibiting under IT&CMA’s cruise cluster.
IT&CMA 2018 will be held from September 18-20, 2018 at the Bangkok Convention Centre at CentralWorld. It is co-located with the CTW Asia-Pacific – The Leading Corporate Travel Management Conference for the Asia-Pacific.