Landry & Kling is launching SeaSite.com, a one-stop online portal that will allow meeting planners to source and plan meetings at sea, says Joyce Landry, president and chief executive officer at the Coral Gables, Fla.-based cruise event services company.

Meeting planners can log on and put in the criteria for their meeting and it will tell them where appropriate-sized ships are, how many rooms they have available, number and size of meeting and function space, where they are going, what type of facilities and equipment they have, etc.

SeaSite will be beta-tested in April and will likely be up and running later this spring, says Landry. All the major cruise lines are going to be accessible through this portal, which is designed to give more detailed information than a retail travel Web site such as Travelocity would provide, she says.

A majority of Landry & Kling's clients are corporations, but the company would like to attract more association customers. “We invented SeaSite to expand the types of clients that we have, and associations are high on our list.” Landry says her company has done meetings at sea for association clients, like The Links Foundation's 2008 post-annual-meeting cruise to Alaska out of Seattle for 115 members. They also have done board meetings, committee meetings, and planning sessions for associations, and in the past have provided additional housing for a large association meeting in New Orleans aboard ships docked near the convention center. They have not done a full annual meeting, but it could be done, she says.

Despite the rough economy, Landry & Kling's business is doing well this year, better than 2008, says Landry. “There are so many different sizes of ships right now, and they are all competing with each other,” she says. “There are some great bargains right now that would be hard to duplicate [in a meeting at a hotel.]” For more information go to www.landrykling.com.

Survey: Exhibitor Budgets Down

According to the 2009 Exhibit Management Survey, conducted by the Trade Show Exhibitors Association, exhibitors are expecting their budgets for 2009 to shrink, but they still plan to exhibit. In fact, respondents reported that trade shows still would account for one-third of their 2009 marketing budgets, despite the expectations that their budgets for shows would shrink from an average of $459,100 in 2008 to $381,000 in 2009, an average of 17 percent.

Spending trends are industry-specific, however. The survey found that spending for medical/healthcare/pharmaceutical industry events will increase 5 percent in 2009, while spending for technology shows will decrease 46 percent. The number of shows participants said they planned to attend this year shrank from an average of 30 in 2008 to 25 in 2009.