By Richard Weinstein
OK I admit it. I was a different kind of kid. While other mothers were busy cutting off the crust on their kids sandwiches, I was digging down to the bottom of the bread bag to get the “other end” so my sandwich could have ALL crust. In fact, when in a restaurant I still remove the center of the bread and only eat the crust. (I fear this may have started the low carb craze) I always thought the perfect girl for me would be one that only liked the center of the bread, so naturally I married one that also, only likes the crust. That makes our relationship special because we don’t just fight about the every day domestic stuff we get to fight over the ends of the bread loaf too. OK, maybe I am a different kind of adult as well.
The other day, as I was scooping out the dough from the edges of my bagel (the center does not have any dough, just a hole) and I realized that things have changed. When I was growing up there were basically three possible bagels. Plain, sesame seed and poppy seed, that was it. On any given trip to the bagel store there are now quite a few choices. I guess whole wheat, pumpernickel, garlic and even “everything” bagels are at least innovative, but chocolate chip, banana nut, cinnamon raisin and blueberry? Those are not innovation, they aren’t even bagels, those are Donuts! But this phenomenon is not limited to bagels.
Suddenly it seems as if every food substance with a hole in it needs a greater variety. It was not too long ago we fed our baby Cheerios. (Originally named CheeriOats a healthy ready to eat breakfast that did not require cooking) Now all of a sudden there are not just plain old Cheerios but also Frosted Cheerios, Team Cheerios (which seem to be frosted with extra frosting), Honey Nut Cheerios, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Multigrain Cheerios and the newest Berry Burst Cheerios, in three flavors (I am not making this up) Triple Berry, Strawberry and Banana something or other.
Speaking of food with holes in it, a few years ago I was attending a travel industry event in Germany. They had a reception in a hotel ballroom with food stations attended by various hosts from around the world. As I approached the food station from Switzerland I was confronted with an enormous variety of cheese in all sizes and shapes. Eyeing one cheese that was full of holes, I slowly pointed to it while asking “Is this Swiss Cheese?” The attending host looked at me quite odd so that at first I thought he did not understand my question, which was not quite the case as he responded in perfect English. “Well… (Long pause) they’re ALL Swiss cheese…the one with the holes is called Gruyere” It was then that I realized what the expression “stupid American” really meant.
But this is not just about food with holes. If you grew up in the north you had Maxwell House Coffee and if you were in the south there was Folgers. Without going into too much detail, now among others there is frapachino with whipped cream and chocolate shavings and as many other varieties of Coffee with a similar number of way to order it. We see it again and again. With Yogurt it was Dannon (remember trying to get the fruit stirred up from the bottom without spilling it? Was that even possible?) Now it comes pre mixed (funny. pre mixed yogurt is called Swiss style, coincidence you ask?) in a variety of colors in easily portable plastic tubes.
When I first started thinking about this I thought it was all about how sugar was becoming a huge part of our diet since each new product seems to be sweeter and sweeter. But then I realized it was all about Choice. We are a country that demands choice. Just look at cheesecake. Here is a product that is already sweet that now has 27 varieties; from peanut butter cup fudge ripple to coffee heath bar crunch (can this also count for a different way to have your coffee?). Even Sugar itself has a variety of choices, there is regular sugar (refined), raw sugar, organic cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, honey, (and for our friends overseas golden syrup) and even choices for fake sugar like sweet and low or equal.
And maybe that is how you feel when it is time to decide “where in the world” for your next meeting or incentive. If that choice was not tough enough when you were just looking at hotels, what happens now when you learn about how you can convert your land program to be effective (both in cost and achieving business objectives) on a Cruise? Even if you already know you want to pursue a cruise option, how can you determine which cruise line is right for you?
That is why I hope to cover three main topics this week, but that is really up to you. You have to respond, that is, I write, you respond, I write more. If you don’t respond what incentive is there for me to keep writing? So for today I thought we would start, well, at the beginning and why you might make this choice and consider a cruise at all?
1. It is a growing industry which means more new products and significant investment in existing products to keep pace with the entire travel marketplace
2. Cruising holds one of the highest consumer satisfaction ratings among all travel options
3. All inclusive pricing makes it easy for the meeting planner with one stop shopping and fixed budget guaranteed up front
4. You get several destinations in one experience. Not just the ship itself but also the ports visited and all this only unpacking once.
5. A cruise is highly desirable for both an incentive and as a destination for a meeting program guests will look forward to, often finding this program as their first cruise experience. (only 16% of the North American Population has taken a cruise)
6. Cruises have come a long way in their sophistication and ship design taking meetings and incentive program needs into consideration when adding dedicated meeting space and the design of flexible event venues.
7. A cruise is a great way to answer the challenge of, where do we go next? How can we make our event or program unique, what will make attendees excited about this, how can we do something different that appears we are stepping out of our comfort zone, but in reality is often easier to manage then a similar program on land.
Want to know how to make a sweet choice for the right Cruise? Post your comments and interest here today and I will add a listing of considerations on how to choose the right cruise tomorrow right after I finish breakfast. I will be the one sitting in the Deli with a pile of scooped out dough on my plate eating a plain bagel with a nice slice of Swiss cheese on top.