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Mice Asia Net : October 2008
cruising cruise control The cruise market, with its plethora of destinations, packages, competitive pricing, and pre-payment plans, is making big inroads into the MICE market. What was once the sole domain of the independent traveller is now, more than ever before, a very real competitor to land-based venue operators. Silversea Cruises Asia Pacific senior vice president, Steve Odell, which offers a wealth of cruises in Asia and throughout the world, says the company’s global corporate MICE business today represents 15 to 20 per cent of the company’s annual business. “There is definitely an upward trend as awareness of the all-inclusive value of the MICE cruise product grows,” he says. “I believe the figure will stabilise at around 20 per cent per year but with an increasing number of whole ship charters. Corporately we have 25 whole ship charters in 2008 and a large number of smaller incentive type groups. 2009 is also looking very strong already.” Whole ship charters are where one client purchases the entire ship, meaning that the group is pretty much the “captain” of its own cruise experience. The beauty of chartering is that the group can select where and when it wants to go, have more of a say in the food and beverages on board, be more selective with land-based and even onboard activities that fit with the demographics of the attendees. Mr Odell says one cruise line, who he didn’t wish to name, recently mentioned the Asian market is globally around one million pax per annum. “There are no published figures for the Asia cruise market - all I can say is that the market base is huge given the overall size of population if T 56 miceAsia.net his is particularly true for the MICE market, with convention and incentive travel groups often seeking not only something out of the ordinary but hassle-free options. Cruising is big business globally and is only set to grow in the coming years. you compare it to other world markets like Europe and The Americas. “The Asian cruise market is in its infancy - Star Cruises have without doubt driven the cruise market for meetings and incentives in the region. For premium and luxury cruise operators there is massive potential. “[Within Asia] there is a high propensity to travel. Asians are the largest purchasers of luxury goods worldwide and there is considerable wealth that is easily identifiable for us to target in the various markets of the region. Hence, our investment in the area.” Next stop As far as Silversea is concerned, 2009 will see the release of 130 itineraries covering 80 countries and 300 destinations globally. Voyages range from six to 110 nights including The Mediterranean, Northern Europe/Baltic, Alaska, Asia Pacific, The Middle East and South America. “We have also recently launched ‘Silversea Expeditions aboard Prince Albert II’. This new expedition-style ship will open up Antarctica and Polynesia for Silversea,” Mr Odell says. “The top segment of the market is looking for a boutique environment - unique destinations that only small ships can reach (passing through London Tower Bridge; Ho Chi Minh City - at the heart of the city, the harbour in Monaco or even navigating the river into the heart of St. Petersburg). “Currently we have a seasonal deployment in Asia of four to six months with other ships transiting the region as part of longer voyages. We cover all the major ports of the region, big and small, from Japan to Indonesia. 2009 will see itineraries that begin and end in Shanghai for the first time.”