Distributor Convention and Trade Show on a Cruise Ship

SFK “Virtual” Trade Show at Sea


SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings and seals. Their services include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. The company’s objective for the 2012 Latin American Distributor Convention was to thank distributors for their commitment to SKF, celebrate success, and share future strategies.

Why a Cruise?

The company was looking for a unique destination for their Distributor Convention – one that would generate buzz, increase motivation, and create memorable experiences for 420 attendees.

SKF had never planned an event at sea, and didn’t know if a cruise ship would support their  vision for this program, and so they turned to Landry & Kling.  Based on SKF’s requirements for their Distributor Convention, we narrowed down the choices and demonstrated how each vessel could be translated into a business environment. Once they realized the tremendous value of a cruise, the SKF decision makers were convinced.

SKF selected Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas, sailing from Miami to the Bahamas. The resort-style ship had appropriate function space for all attendees, and the 4-night itinerary allowed ample time for meetings as well as fun events onboard and ashore.

Program Challenges

First we addressed several potential onboard challenges:

  • SKF wanted full-scale productions designed to mimic TV talk shows for their general sessions.
  • They wanted to include a Product Display, but their products were too large to bring onboard the ship.
  • Distributors from Latin America needed multi-language translation.
  • SKF wanted to host their Distributor Convention Farewell Party “under the stars”, but the pool deck was not available for a private function.

Landry & Kling Elegant Solutions

Distributor Convention at Sea -SKF Trade show Majesty of the Seas

SKF Trade Show Booth

Miami-based Landry & Kling functions as a Cruise DMC, and was a great support for SKF in Argentina.

  • We added a Miami-based production company to our team.
  • No products?….No problem! We directed the production team to built kiosks with plasma screens to showcase SKF’s products and service and figured out a way to transfer the kiosks to the ship– by putting them on wheels!
  • We sourced a translation services company to provide Spanish and Portuguese simultaneous translation, and two L&K event staff spoke both languages.
  • For the final farewell party…we worked with the cruise line home office and behind the scenes aboard ship to create and deliver an unforgettable event never done before by the cruise line.

What Made This Distributor Meeting “Un-Conventional”

SKF Distributor Convention - General Session on Majesty of the Seas

SKF General Session on Majesty of the Seas

SKF General Session

From ” TV talk shows” to virtual product displays and inflatable furniture, the SKF 2012 Distributor Program was not your typical convention! Here’s how a confluence of creativity, expertise and ingenuity led to extraordinary results.

Pre-Cruise Services

In keeping with our promise to provide “one stop shopping” service, L&K’s Program Manager sourced and purchased SKF cabin gifts from several local vendors, and had them delivered to the ship.

Day 1: Sailing Day

The festivities kicked off as Majesty of the Seas set sail from Miami with all attendees on deck. An aerial flyover with a welcome message from SKF was a wonderful surprise as they sailed away.

Day 2: Nassau, Bahamas – It’s Show Time!

SKF Distributor Convention at Sea Translation booth

SKF Translation booth on Majesty of the Seas

SKF’s General Session took place in the ship’s Main Theater, with simultaneous translation into Spanish and Portuguese. A four-piece band played as attendees arrived – was it a meeting or a talk show? The TV talk show “host” was behind his desk on the stage. One by one, SKF participants (including the President and CEO were interviewed about new solutions.

During breaks in the “show”, attendees checked out the virtual Product Displays nearby, where eight themed kiosks streamed presentations on plasma screens.

Day 3: CocoCay, Bahamas –  Magic Accelerator & Fun in Paradise

SKF Distributor Convention private beach party at CocoCay

SKF’s exclusive beach party at CocoCay.

There was more mixture of fun and business during the General Session. An SKF distributor, wearing a snorkel and mask, was led onto the stage and put into a clear box where different colored ping pong balls were added. This “Magic Accelerator” stunt was a unique visual representation of the company’s sales trajectory – so much more creative and impactful that the usual sales graph!

Afterwards, SKF participants boarded ship tenders to the cruise line’s private island, CocoCay, for a BBQ beach buffet. Landry & Kling had made arrangements to have SKF signs and flags mark the group’s beach area where customized Beach Olympics, a scavenger hunt, and volleyball games were soon underway. With tropical drinks and music for dancing – they all had some serious fun!

Day 4: Key West, Florida – Celebrating Success

After a morning at leisure in Key West, it was all aboard in the afternoon for the last day of general sessions and breakouts. As the general session came to a close, the group was treated to a surprise video that captured the highlights of their event

Dancing Under the ….Basketball Hoop?

Distributor Convention -SKF Sports Deck Event Majesty of the Seas

SKF Event on the Sports Deck

SKF organizers had originally requested the pool deck for their farewell event, but it was not available for their exclusive use. But we knew there was one other outdoor venue that could accommodate the group…the Sports Deck!

At first, Royal Caribbean declined the request; no group had ever planned an evening function in this top-deck space.  There are no lights, no furniture, and very few electrical outlets that are only 220 volts.

Our program manager understood the cruise line’s limitations, but jumped into action, determined to find an elegant solution. Securing a meeting with ship’s Chief Engineer, she proposed taking over the basketball court and bringing in technical equipment including a generator, a power converter, and lighting to transform the space from a sports deck to a party deck. It worked!

Next the team brought in a portable DJ booth and inflatable furniture including chairs, love seats and high-top tables. Gobo lights projecting the SKF logo and plenty of neon glow sticks and sunglasses added to the South Beach-style club atmosphere. The SKF group had a ball dancing on the top deck of the ship, under the stars. It was truly a night – and a convention – they’ll never forget!

Results: Numbers Don’t Lie

After the cruise event, SKF’s planning team received an overwhelming number of cards and emails from attendees with positive feedback.In fact, participant surveys averaged an unprecedented 4.9 out of 5! The SKF 2012 Latin American Distributor Convention attendees thanked the company for putting together a unique and fun event that surpassed their expectations.