Incentive Programs – FAQs
- Why is it beneficial for your corporate group to travel on a European river cruise?
- What is a “river cruise broker” and how do you work?
- Will the crew speak English?
- Are the ships nonsmoking?
- How far in advance do we need to plan a charter in order to satisfy important preferences?
- On a full ship charter basis, are we able to select our itinerary and destinations?
Why is it beneficial for your corporate group to travel on a European river cruise?
ANSWER 1: For starters, a cruise on the Danube River or the Rhine River will allow your travelers to experience up to 4 different countries and all in the comfort of their “floating hotel”. Depending on the itinerary, your people can visit quant villages, small wine towns and world-class cities. All of the marvelous cultural opportunities that European travel offers are even more prevalent on the great rivers.
ANSWER 2: Unlike incentive programs at resort hotels or on gigantic oceangoing cruise ships, European river cruises provide the opportunity for travelers to relax and enjoy a more intimate setting. For the corporate decision-makers who feel that their employees and/or their customers would greatly benefit from more “face time” with each other, what better way to accomplish those goals than on a river cruise. Being a “captive audience” on a comfortable sailing vessel can be both a pleasurable and productive experience.
ANSWER 3: The river cruise format can initiate; special meals, cocktails parties, winetastings, formal and informal functions of various kinds, as well as the prerequisite business meetings. All of these venues can all be arranged on board the ship, or at lavish and practical locations along the river. We can also arrange visits to; wineries, dine-arounds, meals at special restaurants, dress balls in castles and palaces, classical musical concerts and operas, a Vienna Boys Choir concert, special cocktail parties for private after-hours art exhibits, automobile road rallies, bicycling, private and public garden tours, and the list goes on and on. Every time your group arrives in a different country or destination, new and unique experiences await your travelers.
What is a “river cruise broker” and how do you work?
ANSWER 1: A European river cruise broker is a company that represents or has sales and marketing agreements, with several different river cruise lines. In this case, as a river cruise broker, I buy my products from European-based river cruise lines that do not have a sales office or physical presence in the North American market. My job is to introduce river cruise products that are different, but similar in many respects, to the American-based river cruise lines which are already present in our market. The quality of the ships can be equal, or better, but we have more ships and potential itineraries to choose from.
ANSWER 2: The “river cruise broker” process would be very much like approaching a travel agent to discuss a personal trip to a new destination. That agent would assist you in choosing a hotel that best suits your requirements. That is also how a river cruise broker works. The incentive buyer would contact EuroWorld Holidays and discuss their preferences (which river, the type of ship, how many people traveling, the projected budget, ideal travel dates, etc.). We would carefully consider these options, offer our expert advice, and send you a proposal(s) that would best fit your incentive group’s requirements.
ANSWER 3: Our product choices, especially on a charter basis, would include vessels that accommodate between 100-200 passengers, depending on the river and your ship-quality preference. We have very nice 3 star ships, which would be considered Superior Tourist Class, first class ships (4 star) and deluxe ships (5 star). They could be from Dutch, French, German, Austrian, Swiss, or through river cruise lines from other European countries.
ANSWER 4: Since we go right to the source (almost always directly to the ship owners), there are less middlemen involved. This means that EuroWorld Holidays always has better prices than the American-based river cruise lines.
Will the crew speak English?
ANSWER: Yes, all European river cruise ships are generally staffed by crew members from various European countries. All river cruise lines tend to draw from the same pool of candidates and many come from former Eastern European countries, although, depending on the client base for their noncharter cruise itineraries, there could also be management and/or supervisors who would be citizens of the country where the river cruise line is based.
Are the ships nonsmoking?
ANSWER: Yes, except for those designated open-air areas on the outside or on the top (sun) deck where smoking is allowed. As of the 2007 or 2008 sailing seasons, all European river cruise ships are now nonsmoking, according to current EU laws.
How far in advance do we need to plan a charter in order to satisfy important preferences?
ANSWER: I would recommend having an initial conversation anywhere between 18-24 months prior to your incentive program. Keep in mind that the normal European river cruise sailing season runs from early April through October, so plan accordingly. As another example, charter program discussions would need to get very serious by November or December for programs up to 2 calendar years ahead, no matter what month your incentive group is considering as their travel dates. That is usually when European river cruise lines begin planning their schedules for potential charter clients. After charter programs have been scheduled, the river cruise line’s next preference is to plan sailing dates for their tour operator partners who schedule multiple group departures.
Finally, they will begin selling ad hoc leisure groups and individual travelers on the remaining sailing dates that are not full. Once that final process gets started, the chances of finding the sailing dates that your program needs on a full ship charter basis are slim and none, unless, you are very lucky or extremely flexible. That can mean offseason programs.
On a full ship charter basis, are we able to select our itinerary and destinations?
ANSWER 1: This is certainly possible but there are many considerations to take into account on a logistics basis. These logistical considerations must include; sailing times between venues (ports-of-call), sailing upstream or downstream, the number of locks between destinations, optimum sightseeing opportunities along the river during the daytime, availability of docking facilities at a preferred location and the timing for optimum sightseeing in various ports-of-call.
ANSWER 2: Another factor has to do with the location of the ship before and after each cruise program ends. The passengers on board the ship prior to your group’s arrival, are disembarking at a specific location. On a noncharter basis, it is almost always the same port and the next shipload of passengers are expected to embark at that same port. The same is true for your charter group when they disembark and the next set of passengers proceed to embark onto the ship. Any “dead-heading” and/or additional sailing time between embarkation/disembarkation points needs to be efficient, or someone gets charged for the inconvenience, time and effort to reposition the ship. These logistical issues can be discussed between the parties. Itineraries can always be refined and potential problems can often be solved. The partnership and expectations levels tend to balance themselves out primarily along the logistical side of the fence.
ANSWER 3: Finally, it is counterproductive to backtrack or criss-cross between ports. I had a client once who wanted a Danube River cruise and because they were traveling west to east (Passau to Budapest), they made a request to end the program in Vienna but they still wanted to visit Budapest. This was a problem. Their requested but inefficient routing, ensured that they were going to spend more time sailing between these destinations rather then enjoying their time in these wonderful cities. Even though distances between venues may seem insignificant on the map, it does not often mean that they are easily reached in the same travel time by river cruise ship as they would by motorcoach, car or train. This client was obviously not familiar with cruising on the Danube River. They also did not realize that this part of the river between Vienna and Budapest is often used for overnight sailing because it is possibly the least scenic portion of the Danube.