One locked-in year on, cruise incentives still prove to be a huge hit for Indonesia's corporates, and, according to one planner, even more so than land-based incentives.
"It's been one year without incentive trips or rewards, it's time for us to give them a break again to travel and I think cruising is the best choice right now, said Irawati Victorio, who plans several incentive trips each year in her role as assistant sales manager, Synergy Worldwide Indonesia.
The robust trade and consumer interest in cruise holidays was palpable at CruiseWorld Indonesia 2021, which was held virtually on 25 March by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in partnership with Travel Weekly Asia.
While land tours offer historical and cultural explorations, cruising is a "full service" experience highly favoured for incentive travel because we "just have to pay one price but visit many destinations, enjoy a luxurious lifestyle, shopping, entertainment such as live music, games and facilities — just like a five-star hotel," explained Victorio during CruiseWorld Indonesia.
Also, with team-building a core aspect of the incentive programme, Victorio said she works with agency partners to organise memorable experiences and treasure hunt activities to foster team bonds. "We'll do something unforgettable such as a bubble party, or Hawaiian-themed night," she added.
While niche, incentive travel is an important business tool which can drive employee engagement, company profits, and even customer engagement through loyalty programmes.
Before Covid-19, the Indonesian market was "second [in terms of] top visitor arrivals with a record high of 3.1 million in 2019, and is also one of our top three source markets for cruising," said STB area director of Indonesia, Jolene Goh.
Singapore safely restarted its domestic cruise industry last November, with Genting Cruise Lines (GCL) and Royal Caribbean International safely resuming sailing — and welcoming the 100,000th passenger this month. During last week's CruiseWorld event, GCL also introduced its Muslim-friendly World Dream, which recently obtained certifications from the United World Halal Development.
The implementation of new safety protocols, coupled with Indonesia entering phase two of its vaccination programme, has corporates like Victorio eager to return to the high seas when borders reopen.
"These are the things that make us feel safe [while cruising] and which we can introduce to our members," said Victorio.
At the end of the day, "they're all keen to get back onboard," Victorio concluded. "We just need to feel safe when cruising, and hopefully there won't be long queues at embarkation and immigration, because when we bring groups, sometimes it's [anywhere from] 300 to 500 people".
Singapore's proximity to Indonesia is another attractive factor, according to Budi Gani, president director at Multi Alam Bahari Internasional, who believes that when the borders reopen "locals will soon travel again [to Singapore], especially for cruising".
To keep the recovery momentum going, Northstar Travel Media is supporting with a series of CruiseWorld virtual events — India and Malaysia are next. Find out more here.