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FCCA Caribbean Cruise Conference & Trade Show…
Yet Another Success Story!

 

Yes it’s true, this year’s FCCA Caribbean Cruise Conference & Trade Show did take place and it was in fact a great success… even though it was all put together in less than three weeks!

 

The Hon. Owen S. Arthur,
Prime Minister of Barbados

As you know, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association was compelled to move the Conference from the Cayman Islands to Barbados due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan. Micky Arison, FCCA Chairman and Chairman & CEO of Carnival Corporation, refused to allow these unfortunate and tragic events to shut-down this yearly industry gathering. Micky advised Michele M. Paige, FCCA President, that it was of the utmost importance to go ahead with the Conference and directed her to ‘make it happen.’ Well, ‘making it happen’ is something Michele knows a little bit about, so the FCCA forged ahead making alternate plans and quickly began working with Barbados, site of the first ever FCCA Conference in 1994, to hold the event there. We believe that the results speak for themselves.

 

“The Conference was a great success. I’m still amazed at how the FCCA and Barbados were able to pull that off with as little planning time that you had!  And there was a little something special about this conference, much like I felt in Aruba in 2001 after 9/11 that set it apart as well. I think people coming together for a common cause, especially in the face of adversity, exudes an extra measure of cooperation and oneness. I want to reiterate my gratitude to Barbados as a wonderful host, and to you and the FCCA as outstanding organizers to what turned out to be a very successful event! Thanks,” Rob Uhrig, Market Planning, Deployment & Itineraries, Princess Cruises.

 

“I would like to congratulate you and your staff and also the people of Barbados for an excellent conference. Considering the circumstances of the change in venue and the time frame involved it was a marvelous achievement. This year we felt as though we were really ‘industry partners.’ Interestingly, all the comments that I heard, regarding the Conference, were of a complimentary nature. Well-done Michele. Best regards,” H. Tony Henry, Croydon in the Mountains, Montego Bay, Jamaica.

 

How is the FCCA able to put forth such successful Conferences year in and year out? Even more remarkably, how was the FCCA able to put together “yet another success story” in so limited a time frame?

Here is the underlying truth to the success of the FCCA Conference. The FCCA Caribbean Cruise Conference & Trade Show has been successful over the past eleven years due in large part to three fundamental reasons:

1. The commitment of the FCCA Member Lines to support the event and the active participation by dozens of the industry’s finest and most dedicated cruise executives, who work around the clock during the Conference.

 

2. The support, generosity and graciousness of the host destinations. There have been ten such
destinations with Barbados being the sole repeat host (1994 & 2004). The other nine destinations to host the FCCA Conference are: Curacao (1995), St. Thomas, U.S.V.I . (1996), The Bahamas (1997), Jamaica (1998), Puerto Rico (1999), Panama (2000), Aruba (2001), Mexico (2002), and St. Maarten (2003).

 

3. The partnership demonstrated by hundreds of the industry’s finest and most dedicated ‘players,’ who value this once-a-year opportunity so intensely that they inspire us to “make it happen.” These FCCA partners participate year after year, no matter whether things are good or bad, and contribute by sharing their experiences and knowledge for the overall good and success of
the Conference.

 

Note the operative words in the last statement, “participate” and “contribute,” as they represent the key attributes that make the FCCA Conference so uniquely successful each year. The Conference is the one and only event where all participants have a vested stake in the event’s success and where the success of the event depends so greatly on the contributions of all participants.

 

There you have it, the true reason the FCCA Conference has been so successful is simply because we are fortunate enough to be working together with the very best of the very best destinations, governments, ports, attractions, suppliers, tour operators, cruise executives… industry partners!

 

This year’s event in Barbados followed the same general format as past FCCA Conferences. The event is divided into three main areas:

1. Social Functions
2. The Trade Show
3. Business Sessions

First, there can be no argument that Barbados did an absolutely marvelous job in putting together the three evening Social Functions. They were all very distinct and extremely impressive, but the Barbados Night Extravaganza held at the official residence of the Prime Minister, Owen S. Arthur, was without a doubt one of the best FCCA functions ever.

Secondly, the Trade Show was the FCCA’s biggest in years. As a matter of fact, the exhibition had to be expanded at the last minute in order to meet the demand – even with the inability of some scheduled participants to attend. This additional interest in the Trade Show promises to bring about even greater emphasis in this area next year.

 

Last, but certainly not least – as they say the Business Sessions featured the newly revamped and expanded Informal Breakouts, one-on-one meetings. These structured meetings are always in very high demand and the time available to hold them always appears to be too short. The truth is that the cruise executives devote well over 40% of their “Business Sessions” time to try to accommodate everyone. In addition, the cruise executives are more than willing to speak with all attendees throughout the entire event.

This is an area that is constantly evolving, but we believe that it is on the right track and we look forward to making some additional adjustments this coming year, which should prove beneficial. As it was, this year’s Informal Breakouts turned out to be very successful, after some on-site adjustments, and have been highly praised.

 

Finally, the other main component to the Business Sessions, the Workshops were well attended with the vast majority being filled to capacity. This year, eight “roundtable” workshops were presented, as follows:

1. Converting Cruisers to Land-Based Vacationers
This session reviewed important marketing initiatives that will assist destinations in converting cruisers to return visitors. Several destinations discussed actual programs that are now in place and provided valuable insights into the measurable results. Destinations participating in the Cruise Conversion “Come Back” Program gave an overview of their current programs.

 

2. Breaking Into the Industry: Guidelines for New Tour Operators
The focus of this session was geared toward new tour operators and companies that aspire to do business with the cruise lines. Representatives from the FCCA Member Lines outlined their criteria and discussed guidelines for doing business with their respective cruise lines.

 

3. Cooperative Sales and Marketing ~ Cruise Lines and Destinations
This session provided valuable information on how the cruise lines and destinations can work together on a wide variety of sales and marketing initiatives. It explored cooperative efforts that can offer significant marketing opportunities on a cost effective basis.

 

4. Premium & Specialty Tours
Meeting the demand for new and innovative tours for the veteran cruiser can be a challenge. This session defined the importance of including specialty tours that offer a variation from your average ‘sightseeing’ tour. Eco, cultural, water sport based activities and historical adventure tours were examined as examples. The discussion also touched on the subject of designing individual tailor-made tours, where money is no object.

 

5. Website and Electronic Distribution
Representatives from destinations and cruise lines discussed their current strategies for website and electronic product distribution. Key areas of focus included technology, ‘branding’ strategy, content management, lead generation, traffic building and current electronic marketing trends.

 

6. Ingredients of a Successful Tour
This session outlined the criteria for assuring a successful tour. Topics discussed included:
• Expanding and marketing your tour program.
• What’s in a name? Naming your tour is a key marketing strategy.
• Your guide is an essential element in the tour experience. Hiring and training exceptional tour guides is the key to a successful tour.
• Comfortable, well-maintained, air-conditioned buses/taxis for transportation is essential.
• Access for the physically challenged should be available on means of transportation as well as venues.
• The condition of equipment used for water sports activities should be up to standard and your inventory of equipment must be sufficient to accommodate the number of guests on the tour.
• Offer a variety of sizes in equipment, including proper sizes for children.
• Add ‘extras’ in your tour program such as food, beverages, souvenirs, etc.

 

7. Port Security
The status of ISPS compliance was discussed in this workshop, including the importance and ramifications for those destinations that are not compliant. This session also touched on additional
information on overall cruise ship and port security.

 

8. Catering to the Family Market
With the increasing number of families choosing to cruise, it is important that we consider designing shore excursion programs specifically for children traveling with their families to entice sales. Some of the suggestions that were discussed included:
• Designing tours with families in mind, providing areas of interest for adults and children alike.
• Providing proper equipment that is designed specifically for children; such as snorkel gear, life vests, etc.
• The implementation of children’s rates, where applicable.

 

In closing, the Member Lines of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association thank the government and people of Barbados for doing such a wonderful job in hosting the 11th Annual FCCA Conference. and for being such terrific partners. We would also like to acknowledge the Cayman Islands for all their hard work in preparation to host this year’s event and are extremely excited with the prospect of working with them again for the 2006 Conference. As for the 2005 FCCA Caribbean Cruise Conference and Trade Show, we look forward with great anticipation to seeing all our good partners in St. Kitts… September 26 – 30, 2005!

 
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