June 02, 2005
Joyce Landry and Josephine Kling are partners in a privately held, corporate cruise agency again. The founders of Landry & Kling bought the firm back from Boston-based NLG, a leisure-cruise specialist, last week.

Founded in 1982, Landry & Kling was a pioneer of meetings and incentives at sea, moving from New York to Miami in 1988. In 1998, the company was sold to Travel Services International (now My Travel) and later Airtours before becoming part of NLG in 2003. Landry will become CEO of the company while Kling has rejoined as president.

"We're extremely positive about the ever-expanding opportunities that are available in the cruise industry for corporate meetings and incentives," says Landry. "And the timing is right for cruises to capture a larger share of that market."

For one thing, Kling says, the company sees a number of new cruise ships coming on line that are even more incentive and corporate meeting friendly than ever before. Many have better meeting facilities than in the past and are investing heavily in wireless technology and cellular access.

Carnival Cruise Lines' newest ship will have "stem to stern wireless access," Kling notes, as will all of Norwegian Cruise Line's future vessels. Other lines are vastly expanding their wireless hot spots. In addition, most large lines are focusing more on mobile phone access, ensuring that customers can access their cell service via satellite while on board.

One new area the firm will focus on is strategic partnerships with other meeting planners who will use Landry & Kling as cruise experts, Kling says. The reason is simple: getting the most out of the cruise market requires a great deal of specialization and attention, and planners with meeting and incentive clients may want to partner with Landry & Kling rather than invest the time and effort needed to become experts themselves.

Joyce Landry and Jo Kling met while working for Holland America in the late ‘70s. At the time they opened up shop, the cruise business had "some incentive business ... but just a little," Kling says. Incentives at sea really opened up in 1990 with the introduction of two ships: Norwegian Cruise Lines' Royal Majesty and Royal Caribbean's Nordic Empress, she notes, adding, "[Both] announced they would do three- to four-day Caribbean cruises from Miami. These were the perfect length for incentive cruises." In addition, Kling adds, both ships had large, modern meeting facilities.

"All inclusive pricing make cruising a natural for meeting and incentives," she says.