All aboard the MICE boat

Travel agents and operators are seeing double-digit growth in cruise bookings for MICE.

When South Africa enters a recession, the MICE market shifts towards regional destinations or value-add products such as cruising, says Anthea Leonsins, md of Sure Travkor. She says cruise operators are snapping up the majority of bookings from this sector, driving sales with excellent rates and offering extra value for MICE passengers.

It’s also easy for agents to books, Anthea says. “The agent makes one booking for an entire itinerary and all-inclusive drinks packages can be purchased ahead of time so the passenger doesn’t needs to reach into their own pocket during the trip.”

Jane Davidson, director of Development Promotions, says MICE passenger numbers have grown by 37% over the past year, with revenue up 61%.

“Our rate comparisons have shown that passengers save in the region of 20% to 30% on an average daily cruise rate, as compared with the same experience on land,” Jane adds, making it a valuable alternative to other packaged products.

Lizaan Schnettler, groups and incentives manager of Cruises International, has also noticed an increase in MICE bookings, saying conference facilities and meeting spaces were complimentary as part of Cruises’ group rates, and included state-of-the-art AV equipment, which is a good sell for agents.