P&O Conferences full steam ahead as planners take to the sea

Conferences at sea are sailing full steam ahead as organisers seek more options for corporate groups, according cruise operator P&O.

P&O Cruises in Australia has reported a surge in demand for corporate bookings since launching its conference division in February.

A spokesperson for the company says more than 12 corporate groups have booked events since the conference product made its debut at Aime in Melbourne.

The groups range from media outlets to retailers and association with each new booking having an average size of 100 delegates.  

Rebecca Mutanen, P&O Conferences’ senior sales manager, says the number of enquiries received in the first three months of 2015 is more than double that of the same period in 2014, while bookings are up 60 per cent over the quarter.

P&O says the focus on conferences at sea comes as it prepares to expand its fleet from three to five ships, with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November 2015.  

“With their boutique size and dedicated meeting rooms, the two latest ships are ideal for conference groups of up to 200 people,” says Mutanen.

Ships with conference facilities sail from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Fremantle, Cairns, Singapore and Auckland.

“The itineraries range from two nights to closer to 20, but most conference groups book shorter itineraries of two to five nights,” the spokesperson adding that voyages often feature either a full itinerary at sea or one day in a port such as a Queensland island like Moreton Island or Hamilton Island.

“Conferences at sea have been particularly popular with the retail and pharmaceutical sectors and associations.”

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