An article on CNN.com is helping spread the news: “Businesses cruise more to meetings — literally”. The story reports that interest in holding corporate meetings on cruise ships is rising steadily – for good reason.

The research firm PhoCus Wright confirms that 8% of companies surveyed in 2010 listed cruise ships as their first choice for a meeting venue, up from 6% in 2009. This is due in large part to the fact that an all-inclusive cruise event can save up to 30% versus a comparable land venue.

According to Jo Kling, co-founder and CEO of Landry & Kling Global Cruise Events,

There have been a lot of organizations that deleted or deferred meetings and want to do something to get their momentum back up. Taking people to an environment they don’t go often or have never been shifts the perspective all together. They’re not in a (dark) hotel ballroom … thinking, ‘Here we go again.'”

To read the entire article, click here.

Jo reminds meeting planners that they’ll also notice many value-added amenity items included with their cruise program, including nightly entertainment, floral arrangements, A/V equipment, and meals served “a la carte”.

Besides the obvious cost savings, there are many more reasons companies are taking a fresh look at cruise ship venues. Just a few advantages of a cruise include the excitement of visiting multiple destinations (and unpacking only once), more attendance and participation from a “captive audience”, and increased networking/relationship-building opportunities. All these factors make ships attractive alternatives for incentive trips, continuing education courses, product launches, and all types of meetings.

Jo Kling confirms that Landry & Kling has seen an uptick in business, as clients like Microsoft, Aflac, Harley-Davidson, Land O’Lakes and MetLife are choosing to meet on cruise ships. Many of these companies are booking full ship charters for their large events to ensure optimal privacy and customization. For example, Barbizon USA opted to host two 2,000 person events on a ship this year instead of its usual land-based venues – for about half the price.

Close-to-home meetings at sea are also becoming increasingly popular with planners who require venues that offer extra value and convenience. With about 27 gateways in the U.S., nearly 70% of the population lives within a five-hour drive of a cruise ship port.

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