Cruise industry calls for destinations to offer cultural experiences COCI learns at SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference | SOUALIGA NEWSDAY

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – A delegation from the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry (COCI) recently returned from attending SeatradeCruiseGlobal Conference that took place from April 8-11 at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

COCI representatives stated that the cruise industry is looking for unique cultural experiences that defines the destination which cruise travelers can experience during their one-day visit.

“Many destinations in the Caribbean Basin offer similar shore excursions and cruise travelers are experiencing the same things on each island that they visit.  Another point that was brought forward is to offer amenities for families.  Family travel is a trend that has been increasing and for this reason the cruise lines have been adjusting its ships to two- and three-bedroom accommodations.  Sint Maarten needs to adjust its activities and products to cater to this trend. 

“With more people cruising every year, travelers will be able to tell their story about their destination experience and this ‘word of mouth’ advertising is the way people travel.  Creating a selfie spot at your business or giving travel experiences that they would record and upload to social media is the best advertisement.  Nine out of 10 persons spread the word by ‘word of mouth’ advertising.

“The wow factor is also very important. Cruise destinations have to follow trends.  You have to think of new experiences and as things change within the cruise sector, you also have to adapt your business model.  Competition is a wonderful thing as it keeps you on your toes.  Diversity is today’s business.

“Video is the main marketing tool.  More investments should be made in this area and businesses should use this more to showcase their product and services.  The trick is to show a lot, but not everything you have to offer.  The element of surprise keeps the cruisers coming back to you on a yearly basis.

“It is a fact that the authentic branding of your product or services will increase your repeat customers.  According to a recent survey conducted by the Sint Maarten Department of Statistics, repeat cruise customers spend much more on their fourth or more visits to the island.    

“Cruise representatives at the conference were very pleased with Sint Maarten’s bounce-back after the hurricane and sees the destination as a clear example of best practices post-disaster economic recovery,” COCI representatives said on Tuesday.

SeatradeCruiseGlobal brought together over 11,000 professionals within the cruise and travel sector and beyond. The conference is the cruise industry’s most significant worldwide event that presents the opportunity to promote the island and the business community.

Other conference trends that were brought forward was the reduction of emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, and all brands in the cruise line industry are working together on making this goal a reality.

Also, in attendance were the winners of the Chamber’s 40th anniversary initiative of ‘inclusion’ which resulted in the program ‘Business Pitch to Seatrade,’ allowed the following companies to participate Cocomoods Concepts of Crystal Coombs, VooDoo Entertainment, headed by General Manager Paula Daal-Dono, and Yoda Guy Movie Museum Foundation headed by Director Nick Maley.

The three local businesses had the opportunity to join Team Sint Maarten and represent the country at the Conference, adding that, it is an occasion to stimulate and promote their business, the island and cruise tourism.

Source: Souliga Newsday