Now there’s an interesting blog topic if ever there was one!
Actually, it’s a bit more than ‘just’ an interesting blog topic to be honest. It’s also the name of the conference session that I am set to moderate at the 2017 Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Fort Lauderdale on March 15th.
For those that are perhaps not aware, Seatrade Global is THE event on the cruise executive calendar and most, if not ALL of the cruise industry will be in attendance.
It’s an event that I (along with several thousand others that work in this ultra infectious, multi faceted industry) have attended for several years now – and one that I shamelessly look forward to every year.
How can I not? Alongside an exhibition floor crammed ceiling to floor with destinations that vie for attention with their eye catching stands and culturally themed entertainment (think bagpipes, stilt walkers, steel drums and the odd national dance troupe – not to mention local nibbles and titillating drinks) plus a motivational and educational conference program.
Seatrade also brings wonderful opportunities to network and catch up with my many friends and colleagues from around the world aaaand.. being as it’s held in South Florida aka ‘home of the cruise industry’, it also offers a welcome opportunity for a long overdue vitamin D boost.
So it’s healthy too! (Well, kind of… those that have attended will get my drift here.)
And for the first time I am to be part of the conference program and moderate a session that focuses solely on shore excursions and offers an opportunity to ‘look into the consumer’s mind’. Interesting stuff and I something I can’t wait to learn more about.
I have more than just a passing interest in shore excursions, as this side of the industry really is my passion. A passion that started 17 years ago when I began guiding cruise passengers visiting Iceland and has since seen me fall head over heels with the cruise industry in general – a love affair that I am happy to say is still going strong. Not just ‘going strong’ but indeed going from strength to strength!
Like everything in life, the shore excursion industry has changed considerably over the last 17 years. Today’s cruise passenger has a much wider choice than the standard bus trips of old, and though such tours are still on the menu and remain as popular as ever with some passengers, they now have to share the stage with the likes of swimming with dolphins, helicopter tours, flightseeing, set-jetting, hiking, white water rafting, scuba diving, ballooning, caving, zip-lining – you name it, if the destination offers it, the cruise lines will offer it too! Nothing is too mad or bad by today’s standards.
Shore excursions are big business for the cruise lines and they do their best to ensure that passengers have as good a time ashore as they do onboard. They are very much aware that thanks to the Internet, today’s passenger is spoilt for choice and is better educated than ever as to what destinations and ports of call are offering their visitors.
Which is why this conference session is going to be so interesting – even ground breaking! I’m not going to share too much at this stage, but suffice to say that the panel is a mix of travel professionals and consumers.
The discussion promises to be lively, entertaining and educational as we dig deep to find out what today’s traveller is looking for in a shore excursion and if the cruise lines are getting it right.
Roll on March 15th!