HONG KONG Tourism Board is pushing the gangway out for events on the high seas as more cruise companies include conference and incentive groups in their product offerings.
Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong, the business events tourism arm of HKTB, held a briefing at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on how the travel trade can use the facility to set sail with meetings and incentive groups.
Two cruise companies – World Dream and Royal Caribbean – presented to around 40 travel company leaders who also cater to corporate groups. Genting Cruises’ World Dream operates all-year round with calls at the Kai Tak terminal with Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Sea mooring in Hong Kong in April and making returns July-August. Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas arrives next December and call again in January 2020.
Kenneth Wong, MICE and cruise division general manager at Hong Kong Tourism Board, said: “When we talk to travel agents about what is important to them, they say Hong Kong is already an exciting destination, but we need another ‘wow’ factor for clients.”
Wong said that as the cruise-holiday segment expanded in the region, so too did the opportunities to use the “MICE component” offered by cruise operators “as part of an overall itinerary that is interesting and affordable”.
Attendees were brought on a tour of Genting’s World Dream (below) that has an “exclusive enclave” in the form of The Palace, which can be demarcated from the rest of the vessel and includes upscale Stateroom cabins. Organisers can hire the area and also use event spaces such as the Zodiac Theatre, Tribute cabaret area and the Palm Court lounge, which has panoramic sea views.
Royal Caribbean, which has the world’s largest fleet of cruise ships, has a dedicated event team aboard each vessel. The brand will be introducing its “ultra-class” liner, Voyager of the Seas, to Hong Kong in April and returning for cruises from July to September and again in 2020.
Crystal Campbell, managing director of Royal Caribbean Cruises Hong Kong, said organisers would find a better ROI when holding their events on liners with 30 per cent savings compared to land-based options. Dedicated event teams were also aboard each ship.
Campbell said meals, entertainment, stage and décor were covered along with health and resort facilities, meeting rooms and standard audiovisual equipment.
“Any space on board our vessels can be utilised for groups. We can privatise any area specifically for your group,” she said.
The event also highlighted new venues, products and reward deals from Meetings, Exhibitions Hong Kong (MEHK), the business events arm of the special administrative region’s tourism board. These included the new Xiqu Centre at the West Kowloon cultural precinct; Tai Kwun, in Central, which houses galleries, theatres and restaurants in the former Victoria Prison and police station; The Mills, in Tsuen Wan, and Hong Kong News Expo Museum, located in a former market in Central.
Organisers were also told that the Jockey Club’s Happy Wednesday concept was being extended to its Sha Tin course where races are traditionally held on Sundays. New hotels such as Marriott Ocean Park and the forthcoming St Regis and Rosewood were also highlighted.