Could they really get down to business with 12 hours of meetings on a 3-night cruise? Our client needed space for 100 tabletop exhibits, private dining and a high tech/youthful environment. Team members were traveling without spouses—but the company budget couldn’t afford single occupancy rates. Was it feasible to have them share cabins?
The Requirements: The goal was to stage a global knowledge sharing meeting for 3 nights with participants from 11 countries. Our client wanted to motivate employees with varying job functions from all of their international divisions for idea sharing sessions to solve challenges within the company. Each team was to present their ideas / solutions via a table-top display and visual aids in preliminary competitions within each country/division, with the winning groups qualifying for the global meeting aboard a cruise.
The Challenge: There was a limited choice of ships scheduled for short 3-night sailings, and none of them had ever staged an event with table top displays set up over several consecutive days because function rooms aboard ship are in use virtually around the clock. Our client emphasized the need for spacious cabins that employees could comfortably share. And private group dining for 400 was requested to maximize opportunities for communications among participants and dinner speakers during their limited time aboard. As a technology company, the 12-hours of planned meetings required state of the art equipment. Most important, our client was not optimistic about the viability of using a cruise and had a hotel choice ready to go, giving us only 2 weeks from initial call to site inspection and contract.
The Solutions: We went right to the Disney Wonder based on our experience with their deluxe service on 3-night cruises, plus their technology capabilities and overall reputation for entertainment which we knew would motivate performance of worldwide participants as well as satisfy the basic meeting requirements. Equally important, their cabins were designed for families, with 1 ½ baths and curtained off sleep-sofas that allowed more privacy than other ships’ cabins.
Also, knowing Disney ships have 3 dining rooms each right-sized for our group, we negotiated for exclusive use of 1dining room for evening dinners, and made special arrangements to reconfigure that entire room during the day: between breakfast and dinner, half the tables were re-arranged to serve as the foundation for 100 table-top displays while the rest of the tables were stacked and concealed out of the way, behind a drape, to allow walking space in the “exhibit hall”. Meeting sessions were scheduled to run concurrently in lounges throughout the ship, and a few afternoon hours were unscheduled in each port to allow recreation and team-building in Nassau and Treasure Cay (Disney’s private island). Participants also appreciated the ship’s Internet café which enabled them to keep in touch with their homes and offices.
The Results: The allure of a Disney cruise did generate renewed motivation for individual participants and the experience of being “all in the same boat” reinforced to the team building goal. The meeting needs were more than satisfied and our clients reported they achieved breakthrough problem solving and knowledge sharing among divisions which benefited all. Our meeting planner contact considered this program to be a “highlight of his career” and, driven by the success of this program, he became a strong cruise advocate.