This past week, I was aboard the Norwegian Dawn for the CIOForum. I admit that I was a bit skeptical about getting to go on a four-day cruise for free (even if I was presenting… but the attendees get to go for free, too)! The “catch” is that IT vendors have to pay a significant amount of money to go, thus they are guaranteed meetings with the attendees to explain their products and services.
From a marketing perspective, this is absolutely brilliant! They sail from New York to the East Hampton end of Long Island, drop anchor, and sit in the ocean for four days. You are on the boat the entire time… and you have a personalized schedule keeping you in meeting after meeting for the entire time with limited breaks. It sounds like an endurance test, and it is, but the truth is that the best part of any conference is the ability to network with your peers … which just doesn’t happen in cities like Las Vegas where the attendees scatter to the wind after the opening session to do “fun” things in the host city.
Onboard, however, you are constantly networking. You are talking about problems you really face in the workplace and you get great insights into what others are doing to solve the problems. For example, I had meetings on IT governance, cybercrime, leadership and my own on negotiation. Oh, this isn’t just for CIOs, either. They ran 5 concurrent conferences on the ship: CIO, HR, Marketing, SupplyChain/Logistics and Legal. So if you’re actually in a high-level leadership role one of those areas, there’s an event for you, too. Of course, there are great keynotes (we had Dan Rather as our opening speaker, for example), plenty of activities (the spa and fitness area is open 24/7) and entertainment, too (comedians, dancing and more networking).
Maybe I’ll see you onboard in 2009!