Thirty-five years ago, when they founded Landry & Kling, the concept of corporate cruises was virtually unknown.
Back then '"cruising for business" was not even a consideration for most companies, yet with a shared vision and passion, you developed a business niche that has grown to be an integral part of every cruise line’s business portfolio today,' Richard Fain, chairman and ceo, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Vicki Freed, svp sales, trade support and service, Royal Caribbean International, said in a testimony to Landry and Kling.
The 35th anniversary of their company, now called Landry & Kling Global Cruise Events, was celebrated with a gala luncheon hosted by Celebrity Cruises on board Celebrity Reflection at PortMiami.
Local industry VIPs, colleagues, vendors, longtime friends and supporters joined the occasion, highlighted by a giant anniversary cake decorated with streamers and confetti. And the Champagne flowed.
In a broadcast tribute, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and ceo, Celebrity Cruises, called Landry and Kling trailblazers who've contributed to the industry in a way that no one had before. 'They have been the apostles,' she said, 'spreading the word of how great cruise ships are for meetings and incentives.'
Landry had worked at the Delta Queen Steamboat. Co. and Kling was one of the first employees at Royal Viking Line. Later, they met while working at Holland America Line and were friends before they became business partners.
In 1982, they launched their bold new concept—a company exclusively dedicated to developing meetings at sea. Early mentors told them there wasn’t enough cruise volume to warrant specialization, but they persevered, establishing Landry & Kling as the first company to specialize in corporate cruises, special interest cruises and full ship charters.
Their first big coup was the charter of Cunard's QE2 for DECworld '87 (Digital Equipment Corp.), a dockside convention in Boston. Next they chartered the largest cruise ship in the world at the time, Sovereign of the Seas. And business really picked up in the early 1990s when ships were purpose-built for the three-/four-day cruise market, an ideal length for corporate needs, and some even came with dedicated meeting rooms and business facilities.
Over the years, Landry & Kling introduced many Fortune 500 companies to cruising and established a reputation for groundbreaking ideas such as using ships for government summits and international sporting events. They nailed charters for the Olympic Games (from Barcelona in 1992 to Rio de Janeiro last year). Their five-ship charter for the Super Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida, was probably the largest dockside charter ever done.
In 2009, Landry & Kling were inducted into the Cruise Lines International Association Hall of Fame as 'visionaries who led the way in seagoing corporate meetings and incentive travel.'
Great cruise industry figures like David Morris, Mark Conroy, Stein Kruse and Cherie Weinstein join Lutoff-Perlo in the 35th anniversary video tribute to Landry & Kling, available here.
Weinstein, former long-time vp group sales, Carnival Cruise Line, spoke of her admiration for the two women who 'inspired us to look at things very creatively.'
'They've chartered more ships from my old company, Regent, and my new company, Silversea, than any other client I have,' said Conroy, Silversea's managing director of the Americas.
'I really appreciate what you've done for our industry over 35 years,' said Kruse, ceo of the Holland America Group.
In addition to the video, with its bounty of photos depicting great cruise figures, past and present, there are tributes and photos and video of the luncheon celebration here.
'The entire cruise industry owes you a debt of gratitude,' commented Sean Mahoney, who was global vp corporate and incentive sales at Silversea for 16 years.