As someone who has advised corporations like Charles Schwab, Intel, Scholastic and many others over the years, I'm still surprised by the relatively few number of companies that hold business events and incentive trips aboard a cruise ship.
Especially when you consider the upbeat reviews of executives and employees who've done it.
When you unpack the details, cruises typically offer a more motivating and memorable experience for employees — at a lower cost.
Consider what's available on top-tier cruise ships today:
- State-of-the art technology and audio-visual equipment
- Modern conference rooms
- One-of-a-kind activities, amenities and entertainment that promote collegiality
- Food, equipment and facilities provided at no extra cost
- Increasingly, a reliable Internet connection
While the number of business events, incentive trips and charters aboard cruise ships continues to rise, it's still a fairly well-kept secret — though not to the employees who've been on an incentive trip. Company executives tell me that team building and increased employee camaraderie are typical outcomes of a five- to seven-day sailing to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Alaska and elsewhere.
30 percent lower cost than land events
Didier Scaillet, vice president of business development for the Cruise Lines International Association, says cruise lines — from luxury to contemporary brands — offer an exceptional value to businesses, with estimates that companies can save 30 percent or more compared with a resort or hotel event when all the expenses are tallied.
In talks to business groups, Scaillet tells meeting planners and corporate executives what they can expect when they charter all or part of a ship: rooms, meals (including customized menus), daily entertainment, shipboard recreation and activities, travel from destination to destination, state-of-the-art amphitheaters and conference facilities with AV equipment and modern décor are all included in the cost.
The track record is telling: A recent study by the Site International Foundation found that a "vast majority" of incentive trip guests surveyed would recommend a cruise ship for incentive group events, individual incentive events and meeting/conference group events. About half (49.8 percent) strongly agreed with the statement, “I (or my customers) find cruising to be both highly memorable and motivational.”
Contact a cruise consultant
Here's a 2-minute video from Regent Seven Seas about its corporate incentive programs.
Insurance companies, auto companies, financial services, attorneys' groups, medical professionals, travel agencies, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and beverage companies have been among the biggest participants in incentive cruising.
Cruise lines that specialize in business events include Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Celebrity, Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, Seabourn, SeaDream, Windstar and others. (We work with all of them.) But be aware that the experience is quite different from ship to ship.
If you're a meeting planner for a corporation or midsize company, contact a Cruiseable travel consultant for more information about incentive and business travel. (Call us at 1-877-322-3773 or email us.)
We'll advise you on which cruise line and itinerary is the right fit for your specific needs and budget — and get you a group discount — at no charge.