If you dread weekly Monday morning meeting, you should know that there is a new option that could make those meetings much more enjoyable – taking the meeting out to sea. The number of business passengers embarking on cruises – not for pleasure but for meetings and work events – is steadily rising as companies discover the advantages of hosting meetings far away from the traditional office. Since 1980, the North American cruise industry has grown at an annual rate of 7.5% with business meeting attendees contributing to this increase.
Leaving the land behind and heading out to sea for meetings and team building getaways has a host of surprising advantages. One main benefit is that it gets people out of the confines of their office mentalities. The sparkling water, open sky and endless horizon allows passengers on deck to deeply relax, in turning helping them to become more creative, receptive to considering new ideas and open to exploring new directions.
Gathering on a ship also inherently supports networking, as it keeps participants in an enclosed area that still encourages natural bonding. Without being confined within four walls, attendees can see each other at dinner, the lounge and at entertainment activities, taking off the pressure that often comes with forced networking. At the same time, unlike a resort that attendees can leave, on a ship no one can go too far away.
Another advantage is that a ship offers an all-inclusive environment that appeals to a wide variety of personalities, perfect for meetings and getaways catering to a larger group of people with varied interests. From swimming, to entertainment and shows, to extreme sports, pampering spas and so much more everyone is likely to find something to do in the evening or during downtime.
Explains Christine Duffy, CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), “A cruise ship is particularly conducive to productive, memorable meetings because the ship fosters an environment for participation and productivity in an atmosphere of carefree relaxation.” With the relaxed atmosphere come great value, as well. A ship getaway can cost significantly less than land outings according to business event planners in the industry. While most hotels and resorts charge extra for amenities, on a ship meeting rooms, food, entertainment and more are under one umbrella, thereby cutting down on costs.
Shorter sea excursion are also an excellent option for team bonding activities, or shorter meeting or business outings. Small ships and yachts include all-suite vessels, motor vessels and sailboats and these work well for half or full day trips. For about 74 million Americans their recreational activity of choice is boating, so it makes sense to offer a meeting venue and activity that puts lots of people in a good mood – a good recipe for doing business.
It is important to keep in mind, however, that fatalities from boating accidents have increased within the last five years so safety and caution should not be left to the wind. According to George T. Bochanis Law Offices, 77% of boating fatalities occurred in situations in which the operator had not received any boater safety training while only 15% of deaths occurred when the operator was certified. As such, making sure that the boat operator of a small ship holds the proper certification prior to setting sail can significantly reduce chances of an accident turning a productive business meeting in a tragedy.