Cruises are courting business event groups onboard with their offer of customised activities and unique venues, according to the panel of global cruise CEOs who spoke at the Asian MICE Cruise Conference at IT&CMA in Bangkok on September 18.
Sharing how Royal Caribbean Cruises is able to provide a collection of innovative experiences, Angie Stephen, its managing director, Asia Pacific, said: “When you are looking for an agenda for a meeting group, you would not think one can ice skate, skydive and surf all at once, but you can onboard Royal Caribbean.”
With the ability to customise activities according to group sizes and physical abilities, meeting planners will have a seamless experience when planning programmes on board, said Stephen.
Likewise Michael Goh, senior vice president – international sales, Genting Cruise Lines shared how corporate planners will have a “breeze” with the planning of onboard entertainment as different shows are staged every night during the cruise.
Goh shared: “We all know it is always a challenge for any MICE organiser when it comes to entertainment, and we at Star Cruises are able to settle all that.
“The potential for MICE is so great because cruises are able to take care of everything from accommodation and meals to entertainment and meeting venues,” he elaborated.
Citing how exorbitant it may cost for business events organisers to stage fireworks in a destination, Goh highlighted how Dream Cruises offers fireworks on sea as a grand finale for five-night cruises, which would certainly appeal to delegates.
Goh and Stephen both also shared how there are plenty of unique meeting venues available onboard – away from the typical boardrooms – which would charm delegates.
For instance apart from hosting team-building activities, Royal Caribbean’s ice skating rink can also be used for casual meetings. Star Cruises also provides another venue in Galaxy of the Stars – which offers panoramic views of the ocean from a glass-fronted observatory area.
According to Goh, the MICE segment is “clearly growing”, especially over the past five years.
“In the past, we probably might only see a MICE group size which ranges between 50 to 100 onboard. But today a MICE group can go up to a few thousand, with some even opting for a charter option,” Goh said.
Sharing how new destinations have also been developed to cater to this growing market, Goh said Genting Cruise Lines started cruising to more than six new destinations last year like North Bali and Macleod Island – a private island – in Myanmar.
As for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Stephen said: “We develop our destinations and itineraries based on what consumers want, and we see that the Asians want shorter cruises because they are new to it and want to test it first.”
According to Stephen, three- to four-night cruises are the most popular options for the Asian market now.
She advised: “There are different ship sizes and classes in the cruise industry, so it is critical that you put your group on the right ship with the right brand to the right destination.
“I guarantee you will be a standout in your pitch to your clients when you put cruise as an option, because it will be something unexpected and it will surprise and delight your customer,” Stephen concluded.