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Jo Kling steps down from Landry & Kling

Jo Kling, right, and Joyce Landry blow out the candles at Landry & Kling's 35th anniversary party in 2017
Josephine Kling, co-founder of Landry & Kling Global Cruise Events more than three decades ago, will be stepping down as president effective April 27.

'After our heartwarming 35th anniversary celebration last year, I realized this time was coming,' Kling said. 'After all, even the most memorable cruise eventually comes to an end when it’s time to pay attention to other things in life.'

Kling and partner Joyce Landry have been trailblazers in developing cruising's corporate, incentive, meetings and theme cruise business.

'When they first started, I went to their office in New York and they told me about this crazy idea they had of doing corporate charters and incentives,' said Mark Conroy, managing director, the Americas, for Silversea Cruises, who was with Royal Viking Line at the time.

'Obviously the history has proved them right,' Conroy continued. 'They've done amazing things. They have a great partnership ... They're quite a dynamic team.

'They were pioneers, not only in the corporate and incentive business, but they've really grown the special interest charters.'

Kling said she plans to 'invest more time in my personal life, and direct my energy and curiosity into other worthwhile endeavors including life-long learning, perhaps helping kids at risk find cruise jobs. I loved educating clients about cruise travel, so perhaps I’ll teach a cruise course and, naturally, keep traveling. My list of possibilities is endless.'

Vision, elegance, boundless energy and creativity

'It’s been a remarkable partnership, in so many ways,' Landry & Kling CEO Landry commented. 'I’m extremely grateful to Jo for her vision, elegance, boundless energy and creativity. It was a successful match from the beginning and we accomplished so much together.

'Her spirit is embedded in our corporate culture which will never leave us,' Landry added. 'That foundation continues to fuel growth and innovation, keeping Landry & Kling in the forefront of the cruise industry.'

Going forward, Landry will assume the expanded role of president & CEO at the Miami-based company, which is undergoing a global expansion with new strategic partners and the addition of an outside sales team.

Kling is most proud of her media relations and marketing efforts which put Landry & Kling on the map back in the 1980s before corporate and incentive buyers were on the radar of any cruise lines. And, more recently, the company’s digital marketing, ebooks and educational materials have helped Landry & Kling expand and continue to reinvent itself.

Marketing research is where Kling started her career, shortly before Warren Titus hired her in 1970 to research the budding cruise industry for the new Royal Viking Line brand he led. She was one of its first employees.

Conroy noted that he and Kling share the Royal Viking Line provenance, though not concurrently, and a common mentor in the legendary Titus.

After stints in advertising and industrial design in New York City, Kling was hired at Holland America Line where she met Landry and, together, they went on to develop their 'crazy idea' of setting up a cruise specialist agency focused on the corporate business.

introducing Fortune 500 companies to cruising

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 world's largest cruise ship 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 in 2016). 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.'