July 19, 2011
Nearly three years after it launched Seasite.com, which it claims was the first and only web portal dedicated exclusively to the cruise meetings market, Landry & Kling has introduced Version 2.0 of the website, which allows meeting and incentive planners to negotiate directly with cruise lines.

Using Seasite.com Version 2.0, meeting and incentive professionals can send custom electronic request for proposals (e-RFPs) to up to five cruise lines, allowing them to directly engage suppliers to secure competitive all-inclusive group pricing without paying third-party fees.

Landry & Kling is positioning the site—which allows planners to search and choose destinations, dates and ships, view cruise brand mini-sites, and compare ship itineraries and facilities side by side—as the cruise equivalent of hotel sourcing sites like Cvent and StarCite. Its partners include Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea Cruises, and Voyages to Antiquity.

"Carnival is very committed to increasing our corporate and incentive group business," says John Diulus, managing director of strategic partnerships at Carnival Cruise Lines. "We're happy to work with Seasite.com...[its] online group RFP [tool] helps us turn quotes around more quickly."

Adds Lori Cassidy, director of corporate, incentive, and charter sales for Royal Caribbean International, "We believe Seasite.com will expand our access to all the meeting and event planners we wish we could call on in person. We're thrilled to partner with Seasite. They continue to lead the way for group buyers everywhere to connect more efficiently with the cruise industry."

According to Landry & Kling, which cites data from travel industry research firm PhoCusWright (which was recently acquired by Incentive's parent company, Northstar Travel Media), the number of group planners who intend to use cruises increased to eight percent in 2010, up from six percent in 2009. In the first six months of 2011, it says visitor traffic to Seasite.com increased by 55 percent.

"A key focus for Seasite this year is to increase group planners' awareness of ships as desirable meeting venues, so that cruises can take their place in the world of strategic meetings management," says Seasite.com Chief Operating Officer Mark Phillips. "In fact, our direct sourcing model can be integrated into nearly every preferred method of venue sourcing today."