Thirty years ago, two young, up-and-coming women pioneered a bold new concept: business meetings at sea. They faced many challenges including a recession and skepticism from some within the cruise industry.
Thirty years ago, two young, up-and-coming women pioneered a bold new concept: business meetings at sea. They faced many challenges including a recession and skepticism from some within the cruise industry. However, Jo Kling and Joyce Landry persevered, creating a new kind of travel company focused on cruises for corporations, all types of organisations, associations and special interest groups. Their efforts have been recognized by both the cruise and meetings industries.
When Landry & Kling started in 1982, cruise industry executives said there wasn’t enough business to warrant specialising in cruises for the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) market. Like most innovative entrepreneurs Landry and Kling ignored the naysayers and parlayed their knowledge of the cruise industry into three decades of success. Their objective was to create the first distribution model between cruise lines and corporate America by selling and operating incentive cruises and meetings at sea for Fortune 1000 companies. Landry & Kling went on to coordinate cruise meetings for hundreds of blue-chip companies including Harley Davidson, AFLAC and Microsoft.
“From the beginning we believed in our vision,” said CEO Joyce Landry. “Cruise venues are a cost-effective alternative to traditional land-based meetings and provide a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Throughout the years, we’ve constantly looked for new ways to promote cruise groups.”
Since launching, Landry & Kling have embraced innovation, introducing ground-breaking ideas such as:
* Cruise travel specialisation — At the time, it was a groundbreaking idea to launch a travel company dedicated exclusively to cruises. Commonplace now, cruise specialization was unheard of in 1982.
* Floating hotels — In 1987, Landry & Kling introduced dockside cruise ship charters for the DECworld ’87 tradeshow in Boston to serve as floating hotels for more than 25,000 visitors. Since then, they have built an unmatchable track record, chartering ships for the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, the Jacksonville Super Bowl, World Cup Cricket Championship in Barbados, Hurricane Katrina relief housing in New Orleans, and they’ve recently been appointed to procure cruise ships for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
* Cruise groups go online — In the midst of another recession in 2009, the company launched Seasite.com, the first and only website dedicated to cruise meetings and events for DIY (“Do It Yourself”) group planners who want to work directly with cruise lines.
* Special Interest cruises — Landry & Kling have seen a rise in theme cruises and brand marketing through cruise events. Their Rock Legends Cruise and Barbizon Passport to Discovery Modeling Competition Cruise, both introduced in 2011, are already scheduled for repeat programs. Landry & Kling provide a full-suite of services including website creation, marketing, group registration, social media management and more.
“We’re resilient,” commented Jo Kling, president. “We’ve experienced 30 years of ups and downs and have stayed afloat because of our fine staff and significant repeat business. We believe every challenge has an elegant solution – that helps us build lasting relationships!”
The cruise and MICE industries have recognized Landry & Kling for bringing cruises into the mainstream of the meetings industry. Notable achievements include:
* Landry and Kling were inducted into the CLIA Hall of Fame (Cruise Lines International Association) in recognition of their contributions to the industry as “Visionaries who led the way in seagoing corporate meetings and incentive travel.”
* Corporate & Incentives Magazine cited the founding of Landry & Kling as one of the “Top 25 Meeting Industry Milestones.”
* Royal Caribbean recognized Landry & Kling as its Partner of the Year for Corporate & Incentive groups 2012.
“Landry & Kling are consummate professionals able to manage complex events with ease. They have a deep understanding of the needs of their customers and partners,” said Vicki Freed, vice president of Sales, Trade Support and Service, Royal Caribbean International. “They are an esteemed partner and valuable resource for cruise lines looking to expand business.