Portland Port has recently hosted its first cruise educational event. The event has been a year in the making and its aim was to introduce the ground tour operators who work on behalf of the cruise lines to more local attractions, giving these local businesses the ideal opportunity to market their products directly to this key group of decision makers
After a morning presentation and tour of Portland Port the representatives of the 4 major ground tour operators operating in southern England were whisked away to Abbotsbury for a tour of the gardens and lunch. They then returned to Portland for a speed dating event held at the Sailing Academy where they were able to meet with representatives from Lulworth, Forde Abbey, Weymouth Golf Club, Monkey World, the Tank Museum, the National Trust, Portland Castle, Langhams Wine Estate, Bennetts Water Gardens and Swanage and Swanage Railway in 10 minute business sessions. In the evening the group was wined and dined in Weymouth by Portland Port before visiting the local attractions of Sculpture by the Lakes and Minterne House the following morning. The event culminated with a luxurious 5* lunch at the Summer Lodge Hotel in Evershot.
As the cruise markets becomes more diverse it becomes ever more important to ensure that the widest range of excursion options are made available to guests on board the visiting cruise ships. Portland Port recognised that the ground tour operators had a key role to play in highlighting the wide range and high quality of attractions within Dorset. Ian McQuade commented
“I was amazed to discover that Portland Port appears to be one of the first Ports to host such an event. We recognise the crucial role that the ground tour operators play in promoting excursions to our cruise line customers so it seemed only logical to organise and host such an event. Based on the hugely positive feedback we have since received we certainly appear to have made the correct decision".
The event provided a great opportunity for local businesses and attractions to get involved with the cruise industry, with the ground tour operators able to provide an excellent inside perspective of how the excursions sector operates, what the cruise lines are looking for and how they package together excursions for cruise passengers. Natasha Salaman, Park and Studio manager at Sculpture by the Lakes was at the event and found the experience very productive;
“Sculpture by the Lakes were delighted to be invited and included in Cruise Educational’s inaugural ‘speed dating’ networking event recently held at Weymouth and Portland’s Sailing Academy. We found the opportunity to meet the Ground Tour Operators face to face both interesting and rewarding and hope to build solid working relationships from this ‘marriage’.”
With transport provided by Bluebird Coaches and the support of the Weymouth BID and Weymouth and Portland Chambers of Commerce the event was very much driven by and for local business. It is hoped that this will be the first of many such events over the coming years. With positive feedback from all involved the port will now look to plan a second event in 2016 to further showcase what Dorset and the South West has to offer.
Jack Brooke: 4th Nov 2014 11:23:00
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