Lifting the lid on meetings at sea

Genting Cruise Lines’ Michael Goh (middle) and Princess Cruises’ Farriek Tawfik (right) discuss MICE possibilities on a panel moderated by TTG Asia Media’s Karen Yue (left)

To attract more business events from the corporate sector, cruise industry leaders are speaking out to dispel common myths and misperceptions about bringing conferences and meetings on board cruise ships.

One common misconception is that business events have to book out a whole cruise in order to enjoy its facilities, shared Princess Cruises’ South-east Asia director Farriek Tawfik at the Asian MICE Cruises Conference at IT&CMA in Bangkok on September 18.

Genting Cruise Lines’ Michael Goh (middle) and Princess Cruises’ Farriek Tawfik (right) discuss MICE possibilities on a panel moderated by TTG Asia Media’s Karen Yue (left)

In reality, corporate groups as small as a meeting of 10 pax can enjoy the privacy of venues not used in the day, such as lounges and discotheques, Farriek revealed. He added that usage of these venues is free of charge, and corporates need only pay for add-ons like canapés and drinks.

Michael Goh, senior vice president – international sales, Genting Cruise Lines, chimed in: “There are different formats for different MICE businesses, such as full charter, partial charter and a group block arrangement. Groups can run from 50 to 4,000 pax and have different programmes, so organisers have to innovate all the time. No two MICE cruises are the same.”

Although cruises have become known for fun incentives and teambuilding programmes thanks to on-board entertainment, serious conferences and training sessions can also be conducted on a ship with the right facilities, alongside light-hearted elements in shore excursions.

“The best is for travel agents to match their passenger demographics and needs to the correct ship,” said Farriek.

Arrangements for events on board are typically taken care of by one planner from the cruise company, advised Goh. This provides a “seamless arrangement” of elements from dining preferences to entertainment and even shore excursions.

“These misperceptions persist because of a lack of brand and product awareness. There is a lot of training and product education needed, and more MICE-optimised facilities, entertainment, meeting rooms and shore excursions,” expressed Farriek.

An incentive group from Surabaya that Princess Cruises recently hosted was a good word-of-mouth platform to spread awareness of business cruisings, said Farriek.

Dream Cruises also recently hosted a 2,000-pax business group alongside 2,500 leisure passengers on board its ship.

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