Events are sailing out

Big cruise companies are investing in the Meetings Industry. MSC already has a comprehensive offer in Portugal.

What if instead of holding an event in a static venue, you chose one in motion? Sailing around the world, cruises are an increasingly fashionable option for all sorts of events. Embarking for a meeting, congress or incentive is a way to ensure that guests will hardly forget the event.

Big cruise companies are investing big in this sector, including in Portugal. MSC, one of the largest in the world with established presence in this country, is one of the players already in the Meetings Industry segment. The company "has been betting on this sector in recent years and now offers complete solutions for meetings and incentives, with various possibilities to carry out all kinds of events on board with tailor‑made, adapted and customised programs. In Portugal, we are starting to experience a strong curiosity from companies for this type of products, since at the moment 25% of our passengers carry out cruises in groups, of which about 15% are incentives", General Manager Eduardo Cabrita told Event Point.

For this company, the priority is to promote this service's advantages. "A cruise can be an excellent alternative to hotels, because in terms of extras and entertainment it is all included in the travel price," he added. Also Portuguese company Douro Azul has a ship, Spirit of Chartwell, in this segment, a vessel that carried Queen Elisabeth in her jubilee, with 16 cabins and a royal suite, as a spokesperson of the company explained.

The costs of organising an event on a ship can be 20 to 30 percent lower than in a more traditional venue, according to Landry & Kling, cited by CNN, and that specialises in such services. Eduardo Cabrita also mentioned that "customers who take a business cruise can combine meetings with a short vacation and relaxing moments, visiting different destinations, without having to pack and unpack." In other words, it is a way to have the whole experience of an event or incentive in the same place and with only a partner.

MSC has 15 ships and guarantees that each is “fully equipped with the most advanced equipment for meetings, conferences and presentations, with specialised staff and modern communication technologies for all types of events and meetings, from incentive trips for sales representatives, distributors and resellers, to goal prizes, promotional events, conventions, meetings and conferences or product launches and presentations and international events," said Eduardo Cabrita.

At the same time, "areas on board such as theatres, meeting rooms, bars and lounges, among other places, allow companies from the most diverse segments to hold their events or event theme cruises," said the group's General Manager. Ships also include "sport, fitness and spa facilities that in MSC Cruises' fleet play an important role in the success of meetings, incentives, conferences and events," he added.

The company's ships allow the organisation of events with a capacity of between 30 and 2,000 people, "including the possibility of chartering the ship and / or Yacht Club, a luxury MSC product available on the Fantasia, Meraviglia and Seaside ships. Restaurants, in turn, may have areas reserved for special, commemorative or business dinners," Eduardo Cabrita noted. The choice of itineraries and destinations is wide, but MSC highlights the "Mini Cruises, cruises with about 4/5 days, are perfect for this type of initiatives, offering a unique experience, with the event location moving every day with an incomparable cost / benefit ratio," said the company's General Manager.

MSC also explained that it is easier to combine meetings and incentives with the company's core business of leisure than congresses and events. And the future is of a higher investment in the Meetings Industry. "Companies are increasingly international with delegations from all corners of the world and this segment allows its employees to choose the shipping port and the possibility of being present in your company initiatives, regardless of their location," said Eduardo Cabrita.

Globally, big shipowners are aware of this trend. At Royal Caribbean, the supply is beginning to increase, as is demand. The group built 22 ships with conference centres, Lori Cassidy, Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President for International Meetings, Incentives and Events, told CNN. Among the concerns of those who organise events are seasickness, something that company officials say is not a problem with today's very stable cruises. Cassidy points to another advantage: "delegates can not go anywhere, they are there captive." This solves one of the organisers main problems: make sure that guests indeed attend the event.


Tags: Cruises