The Marine Hotel Association’s (MHA) 34th annual trade show and conference got off to a flying start on Sunday in Naples, Florida, with the event for the non-profit group set to continue through Tuesday, April 2.
Culinary Showcase Huge Hit: A Sunday night Culinary Showcase that kicked off the MHA event, in place of the traditional cocktail hour, was a huge success. Using the outdoor pool deck and inside ball room at the Naples Grande Beach Resort, seven different food stations were staffed by executive chefs from a number of cruise lines ranging from the major players to small niche operators. A large audience on hand was not only able to sample a diverse menu, but interact with the chefs. The event spanned some three hours.
As one purchasing executive told Cruise Industry News: “The chefs are here, and they tell me what to buy; then I go and negotiate it.”
Silent Auction For Scholarship: As is MHA tradition, a two-day silent auction event takes place benefiting the MHA’s long-running scholarship program which has given out over 8,000 scholarships. Some 25 items are on hand this year and up for grabs, donated by various supplier members of the MHA.
New App: Members have a brand new app from the MHA, available on the App Store, Google Play and also PC and Mac browser friendly.
50 New Members: The MHA has 50 new members for 2019, representing a large boost in numbers.
New Members Get Access: Those new members, who pay a modest fee to join the MHA, are also provided a number of key onboarding elements. They are welcomed into the group with a private event with cruise lines and other key players, and are advised on how to spend their first MHA event.
Retirement Noted: Long-time cruise industry veteran and MHA exhibitor Robert Kalinowski, director of sales at Fuji Film, marked his retirement on Sunday night after a more-than 30-year career in the cruise business.
Procurement Talks: Overheard during the hit Sunday night Culinary Showcase were no shortage of vendors and cruise line executives and ship management companies talking purchasing, culinary innovation and supply chain opportunities.
Next Events: The MHA is expected to announce dates for two more events in the immediate future, with a fall 2019 event set to be announced and the 2020 show schedule, expected to be in Orlando, also set to be revealed.
The MHA event brings together cruise executives and purchasing personnel from the hotel, food and beverage and culinary side, not only from cruise lines but major vessel management companies and other purchasing agents. It is the only event covering the hotel and food and beverage sides of the global cruise business.