A technology company wanted to combine a major new product launch with a global partner summit on a cruise ship. The 3 regional meetings (Asia/Pacific, Europe, The Americas) were underwritten by 5 high-caliber sponsors. Could a ship offer adequate breakout rooms, and suitable space for sponsor exhibits, plus display space for 2,000 tons of the new data storage units?

Background: Our client (an event planning company) hoped to realize major savings for their client by staging a single large “Global Partner Summit” for 350 people aboard a cruise ship, including a major new product launch sponsored by suppliers; rather than planning Regional Summit meetings separately for Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Americas with fewer attendees and higher costs at each event.

Challenges: Eliciting agreement from the individual groups was the first hurdle. Then, site selection issues — finding a ship with the desired style and itinerary which we could contract in advance, confirming exclusive use of necessary breakout rooms to ensure appropriate value for the 5 sponsors who underwrote program costs. In comparison, the easiest challenge was the onboard loading and repositioning their revolutionary  mega-data storage system. As the centerpiece of the entire program, it needed to be visible in different venues throughout the cruise.

Solutions: Using a cruise allowed the end user to realize significant savings vs. costs for food & beverage, entertainment, décor, and exhibit facilities. The tradeshow was set up for product displays during cocktail hours on deck during one evening at sea; the cinema and lounges were converted to breakout rooms. Suppliers were pleased with the unusual venues for business development, and different sponsorship opportunities such as room gifts, shore excursions, and shipboard receptions.

Results: The destination of a cruise ship created excitement, boosted interest and increased attendance to the event. Close to 2,000 pounds of data storage units were brought onboard for this Global Partner Summit, with the unveiling of their newest product during the opening session causing quite a stir. The program was called an enormous success and it cost well under the total for separate regional sessions from prior years. By combining regions, the client company was able to build and develop camaraderie between partners and co-workers who had worked together for many years but had never met.