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R.O.A.R.: An economical solution for meeting planning

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In this economically challenging time, is there a “good for me, good for you, good for them” option for meeting planners? The answer is a resounding yes!

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In this economically challenging time, is there a “good for me, good for you, good for them” option for meeting planners? The answer is a resounding yes! Good for travel agencies and agents as it develops business, good for sponsors as it provides an economical, value-packed solution to their meeting needs, and good for the participants as they will have a positive, productive and memorable experience. What is this panacea? Holding a meeting on a cruise.

For the travel agent, could you have a more cooperative supplier? Cruise Lines are feeling the pinch as much as anyone else. Their base of leisure travelers is slipping as families limit their discretionary spending. How better to bolster business than fill capacity with corporate and educational groups? Because lines are anxious for this business, some wonderful features for agents can be negotiated including higher or bonus commissions or future cruise credits. Additionally, cruise lines want your repeat business, ensuring that you, your clients and their guests will all have a positive experience.

The sponsors of the meeting will find numerous advantages in holding their meeting on a cruise. First of all consider “Cost Containment.” When working with a good agent, a sponsor will know up front just about every cost that will be involved. Most everything is pre-paid, so considerations and decisions affecting budgets are dealt with early on. Speaking of cost containment, think of what the cruise line is often willing to provide at no additional charge: function space, A/V equipment, snacks in the room, refreshment breaks, all meals, spouse and family programs, and evening entertainment! Cruise Lines will also offer complimentary cruises as well as marketing support. And because the Travel Agent is acting as the coordinator, there is significantly less of a strain on the services of the sponsor’s own staff.

Participants will benefit from a meeting on a cruise in both obvious and more subtle ways. Clearly the venue is attractive. When bringing the family along, they can combine business with pleasure. Time away from home and their businesses is a big investment. On a cruise this can be turned into quality time with family and friends. Being at sea provides a marvelous change of scenery often triggering an open mind, free thinking, creativity and a willingness to learn and share. Additionally, participants have a chance to meet and bond with each other in a way not available in land-based programs. Remember, this is a captive audience all sharing this extraordinary experience. Participants will return home energized and refreshed.

Yes, as we are all busy looking for ways to cut back and save, for agents, sponsors and participants, we should remember that meetings on ships continues to be a win-win-win opportunity floating out there!

Nancie Nichols Svensen is owner and President of Nichols Cruise Consultants, Inc., ( specialists in meetings at sea. She can be reached at 305-757-7783, or [email protected] .

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