There are many upsides to having a meeting or event on a cruise. It’s a chance to work with one company instead of a half dozen as you plan meals, guest rooms, meeting space and activities. It’s the opportunity to turn a ho-hum meeting into an adventure where attendees bond as they spend time together on a ship.
Still, meeting planners who’ve never taken an event shipboard might not give it a try because they don’t feel they know enough about how things differ from a land-based program.
Wayne Peyreau, regional vice president, sales (U.S.A) for MSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately owned cruise line, understands the concerns. Here, he covers questions planners often pose and explains how MSC works with meeting and incentive groups.
Expect to answer a lot of questions
An MSC planning expert will spend a lot of time on the phone, talking to a meeting or event planner. “We ask questions to really understand what that end goal is and identify their needs, wants and requirements,” said Peyreau. “Then we can give them options.” Meeting and exhibit spaces, special receptions or meals, teambuilding and on-shore excursions as well as audiovisual and other technical needs will be discussed.
Want your group to stand out? MSC can help.
MSC can help brand a gathering with logoed T-shirts, hats, napkins, party invites, banners on ship and off. Branding ideas are especially big with groups that buy out entire ships for their conventions.
Venues vary; creative uses of ship’s spaces
MSC’s ships vary in size, facilities and amenities. Some have dedicated meeting space but often public spaces like lounges and libraries double as meeting venues. Availability will be limited to times the venue wouldn’t be needed by regular passengers, Peyreau said. For example, a bar or lounge could be used for a morning meeting.
MSC might make recommendations
MSC’s planning experts will review a ship’s bookings to see what other groups are already committed. They want to ensure spaces will be sufficient. “There is just so much space available, so if there is already significant programming on a particular voyage, our team might steer you toward another departure if your meeting dates are flexible,” said Peyreau.
Varied itineraries work for different needs
Most of MSC’s ships in the U.S. depart from Miami and are weeklong voyages with stops at several Caribbean ports. For a shorter meeting, planners might look at the three-day cruises MSC is offering to the Bahamas this year on the MSC Divina.
Equipment and tech experts are on board
MSC’s ships supply high-tech audiovisual equipment and experts to set it up and manage it. Well ahead of departure, MSC will request and review a meeting’s equipment needs. Occasionally, equipment will be required that is not available through MSC, and a planner will need to bring that equipment on board. Their MSC planning expert will explain the process and paperwork needed to accomplish that.
Meeting expert at your elbow
MSC’s meeting experts don’t abandon a planner after the group is on board.
“You have someone on board your ship making sure everything is set up as it should be and if not, it is brought to that person’s attention right away,” said Peyreau. That staff member is at every event to ensure everything is in order. If an unexpected issue arises and the MSC expert is not present, planners can simply use one of the phones located throughout the ship and call guest services to reach their contact.
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