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Wed 13 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Costa Cruises lures corporates

Fam trips aimed at enticing events planners on board to see the product in person.

Ocean-bound conferences and incentives trips have accounted for an increasing amount of business in the 2007/8-cruise season, according to the regional office of Costa Cruises.

Costa saw an increasing number of corporations from the region opting to hold their conferences, meetings of incentives trips aboard itineraries in the Gulf and the Mediterranean, according to Francesca Mugnari, sales manager cruise, Alpha Holidays, which acts as general sales agent for Costa in the Middle East.

"The response has been really good from the meetings market," she told MIME.

"Cruising is the best formula for incentives and on board meetings because it is a self contained environment where you have everything - the gym, spa, entertainment, F&B and meetings facilities - its all included in the venue and cost so you are saving money for the company."

Costa Cruises recently hosted an incentive trip for 186 delegates on a seven-night cruise in the Mediterranean, and hopes to attract larger groups next season.

"The beauty of our ships is that we have conference rooms that can accommodate from 20 up to 3000 delegates. We're not scared of big numbers; we want big numbers," said Mugnari.

"We can charter ships for big groups and arrange an itinerary according to the wishes of the client, but this has to be planned two years in advance. We haven't had this from this market yet but this is the next step."

On board conference facilities range from small rooms for up to 20 delegates to the ship's theatre, which can seat almost 8000 delegates.

Alpha and Costa are planning on hosting a number of fam trips for regional corporations in order to get buyers on board one of Costa's two ships that are based in the Gulf to see the product for themselves.

"For corporates we have evening events so we can get more of them on board. We have a cocktail reception, then a presentation and a tour around the ship and then a gala dinner. It's a good opportunity to show off the facilities on board. There is a lot of work in creating awareness and this is something we have to work on," Mugnari concluded.

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