Music has long been recognized as a force akin to nature, drawing people together with a seemingly unearthly power to erase the lines that divide and galvanize us in name of joyful noise -- add to that the influence of rock and roll performed on a stage as wide as the ocean (literally) and you come out on the other side with something nothing short of an unbelievable experience.
Earlier this month a floating rock festival aboard Royal Caribbean International's spectacular, Liberty of the Seas hosted the likes of Foreigner, Paul Rodgers, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Kansas, 38 Special, The Marshall Tucker Band, Blue Oyster Cult, Molly Hatchet, Kentucky Head Hunters, Bobby Keys & The Suffering Bastards, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Pat Travers Band, Melvin Seals & JGB, The Artimus Pyle Band, Black Oak Arkansas, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Devon Allman's Honeytribe, SwampDaWamp, Whiskey Myers, Fired Guns, Mike Zito, Citizens Band Radio, The Blue Lords.
In the space of four days -- between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Labadee, Haiti, the high seas were an endless array of the amazing music performed by rock legends as well as less commercially recognized bands.
Fun-factor aside, an equally intriguing aspect is the floating venue paradigm. While this is not a new concept, nor are destination cruises a new invention, I find the model fascinating with traction and attraction far beyond the entertainment industry.
As many entities regroup from their precarious balancing act on the precipice of the highly controversial "fiscal cliff," the need to think and act not only outside the box, but far beyond it begs necessity. From corporate retreats to annual meetings and the ubiquitous and amorphous themed and charted events such as Rock Legends, the floating venue offers the nuts and bolts that make a meeting not only functional, but also fascinating with a much-needed infusion of fab-u-losity to keep attendees excited, invested and intrigued.
Founder and President of Landry & Kling -- Jo Kling a leading expert in the dynamics of floating meetings/meeting planning believes:
"Theme cruises or special interest sailings make it so easy for travelers and companies who are on the fence about taking a cruise. They (the consumer) have heard all the great things about the value and variety of ports and the excitement, but that final decision to make it a reality is the last step in a process that involves many factors. In the end and after years in this industry I believe it makes good sense for the traveler and equally good 'cents' for Corporate America."
This appears to echo the sentiments of the industry as noted in a recent report Meetings & Groups Research Whitepaper where Destination Hotels & Resorts surveyed a diverse group of 380 planners from around the United States. Their answers reveal what's most important to planners when it comes to choosing a venue for their meetings, and giving great insight into industry trends to expect to see in 2013.
"In almost every segment, we're seeing positive indicators that 2013 will be a growth year for groups and meetings," stated André Fournier, vice president of sales & marketing of Destination Hotels & Resorts. "Another indication of a rebounding market is the anticipated increase in lead time on bookings after a flat line for several years. We found that 55% of meeting planners are looking at longer lead times, with 12% booking at least a year in advance."
Therefore, it was no surprise that floating venues ranked high with location, rates, flexibility of the space(s) and amenities all compelling barometers when exploring how to proactively benchmark potential success.
NOTE: In the spirit of full disclosure, I have no commercial connection to any of the entities named in this article nor was I paid for this article.