~ Stakeholders leave with good impression ~
POINTE BLANCHE--The business-end of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show came to a close yesterday after another busy day's worth of networking, one-on-one meetings, exhibitions and discussion panels.
It was the largest conference in the event's history. Russell Daya of Disney Cruise Line said in his parting words that it was the most successful he ever had attended.
Unique to Thursday was the first-ever FCCA Open Day, where around 300 businesspeople came to see what the event was all about. Normally strictly a business-to-business event, the Open Day was meant to show attendees how the variety of cruise tourism stakeholders showcase products to industry partners.
Various attendees approached by The Daily Herald said that they were very impressed by the facilities, enjoyed the atmosphere, and got the chance to network – especially with stakeholders from other islands. One attendee commented that she appreciated the level of sharing knowledge, which she sometimes misses in the everyday St. Maarten business atmosphere.
Given the theme, the Trade Show doubled seamlessly as a business-to-consumer event for attendees interested in various destinations.
Over 1,200 cruise tourism stakeholders, more than had been expected – along with 100 cruise line Executives, Presidents and Chief Executive Officers – gathered for the business sessions, networking opportunities and insight into maximising the sector's impact, able to learn from key decision makers.
Destination St. Maarten/St. Martin was jointly showcased, in and outside of the conference: a joint pavilion represented the ports and tourism authorities of both sides of the island, and the closing party last night was held at Le Galion Beach.
The island apparently made a very good impression, as various delegates and two cruise line executives volunteered their praises on the local destination product and hospitality to The Daily Herald. The quality of the destination product and harbour in particular were also commended during workshops.
"Attendees must now return to their home countries, but a sense of success and achievement still lingers from their private, pre-selected one-on-one meetings with cruise executives and casual discussions during social functions that displayed St. Maarten's destination product, culture, gastronomy and engaging atmosphere that helped attendees and executives feel comfortable so they could talk freely and forge relationships," a St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies (SHGC) press release read.
Delegates heard about what cruise lines really look for in shore excursions, products, services, infrastructure and destinations, information geared at helping them establish a clearer vision towards success. A strong focus was laid on product differentiation and branding, creating and delivering on customer experiences, infrastructure development, innovation, opening up to new markets, and taking global competition seriously.
SHGC Chief Executive Officer Mark Mingo addressed the audience twice as an industry expert during panel discussions. On the last day, he highlighted the importance of innovation, investing in infrastructure, sharing knowledge, as well as how he has approached harbour management, human resources and keeping in touch with key FCCA executives.
FCCA President Michele Paige, along with key cruise line Executives, Presidents, CEOs and island Ministers shared knowledge, debated and mingled with the delegates.
Today, various delegates will be taking part in complimentary tours.