CRUISING is increasingly accounting for a greater proportion of global MICE revenue as cruise lines continually upgrade their offerings to cater to the diverse needs of groups big and small.
Diana Bloss, director of operations at Worldwide Cruise Associates, a specialist in organising cruise products for incentive buyers and meeting planners, said the segment is “very definitely” taking up a larger portion of the MICE pie.
She has seen healthy year-on-year sales growth of “approximately five per cent, keeping in mind it is a contested election year in the US, which always has an effect”.
Affirming Bloss’ observation, Celebrity Cruises associate vice president, corporate incentives & charter sales, Lisa Vogt, said: “MICE has been picking up momentum in recent years and is continually gaining more share of our overall business year-over-year.”
MICE business is also a growth area for Royal Caribbean Cruises, taking up roughly 30 to 40 per cent of total sales in markets like Thailand and Indonesia, according to Sean Treacy, managing director Singapore and South-east Asia.
But it differs from market to market as sailings out of Singapore sees MICE account for a more modest five to 10 per cent of bookings, he added.
Better telecommunications is one essential enhancement that is propping up MICE demand for cruises, Bloss pointed out, especially as Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean had this year rolled out upgraded Wi-Fi facilities powerful enough for Skype teleconferences.
“Our MICE groups really appreciated it when we introduced our super high-speed internet, called Xcelerate, across our entire fleet,” remarked Vogt.
Another major draw for MICE groups is the all-inclusive nature and flexibility of cruise products, explained Vogt, who sees uptake from across various sectors including pharmaceutical, insurance, franchises and direct selling companies.
“It is growing as a popular choice for incentive travel and corporate meetings and events,” she said.
Bloss concurred: “Our sales are pretty equal between whole ship charters and groups..It depends on (cruises ships’) availability and location.”