P&O Cruises has reported a surge in queries and bookings in response to the launch of its new P&O Conferences division.
The cruise line says it has been inundated with requests for information on meetings at sea and has booked 12 more corporate groups since its new conference product debuted in February at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne.
Ranging from media outlets to retail companies and associations, the new bookings have an average size of 100 delegates.
P&O Conferences Senior Sales Manager Rebecca Mutanen said the number of enquiries received in the first quarter of 2015 had more than doubled compared to the same period in 2014, while bookings were up 60 per cent over the quarter.
The focus on conferences at sea comes as P&O Cruises prepares to expand its fleet from three to five ships, with the addition of Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden in November this year. With their boutique size and dedicated meeting rooms, the two latest ships are ideal for conference groups of up to 200 people.
Ms Mutanen said most of the new conference bookings were on the cruise line’s shorter itineraries, ranging from two to five nights, which now make up 40 per cent of its offerings.
“We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the response to our launch,” Ms Mutanen said. “It seems there’s a real appetite among meeting organisers for something different, and our latest ships and our short itineraries are hitting the mark with a wide range of corporate groups.”
Ms Mutanen said the cruise line was already well on its way to meeting its target of 12,000 meeting delegates in 2016.
“We’re expecting interest will grow even further once Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria arrive in Australia and organisers are able to see just how perfect they are for meetings.”
She said organisers were impressed with the value offered by a meeting at sea, with a price comparison showing that a three-night meeting on land including all group extras would cost an estimated minimum of $1059 per delegate compared to $906 for a cruise with more extras.
“We’ve even had organisers contact us thinking we’ve left out a figure from our quotes – they are astounded when they realise what good value a meeting at sea is,” Ms Mutanen said.
P&O Cruises’ present fleet includes Pacific Jewel, Pacific Pearl and Pacific Dawn, with Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria joining in November.