Global scope of cruise industry to test suppliers, says MHA President
Cruise lines around the world are being forced to think both locally and globally, said Director Hotel Services at Holland America Line John Piejs, who is entering his first year as the President of the Marine Hotel Association.
Piejs spoke with PAX International by phone from Venice during the handover of the ms Koningsdam the week before the MHA’s 31st Conference and Trade Show, which concluded yesterday in Orlando. The group was expecting a well-attended event, and exhibitor space had been sold out well in advance.
The cruise industry is still in the midst of dynamic growth, which has gone far beyond its infancy, when a year’s planning meant winters in the Caribbean and summers in Alaska.
Parts of the world that were strangers to cruising now represent the biggest growth in the industry. Australia and New Zealand were two examples Piejs gave. However, the industry is grooming itself for an even bigger player in the future.
“China is the next market, the next area where the tonnage is showing up over the next couple of years,” he said. “There are cruise lines that are building specific ships for that market to cater to their needs.”
The markets are not the only part of the industry that is increasing in variety. Onboard food service continues to offer passengers choices that were never available in the past, said Piejs. Offerings of one or two wines would never be acceptable in today’s cruise industry.
To fulfill the needs, Piejs said cruise lines are increasingly looking for products that are near destinations and ports of call. Ship chandlers are used mainly to fill niche demands and local vendors are relied on to supplies cruise lines from a much larger product base, creating more complicated transactions and logistics.
“Cruise lines want more consistency, so they go with the largest suppliers that can provide it,” Piejs said. As a result, passengers are treated with meals that have closer ties to the region they are cruising.
The MHA will no longer be holding its European event in Barcelona. Instead the group has opted for a conference at sea. The first was a four-day event aboard the Emerald Princess. There, companies looking to supply equipment and food to cruise lines had the chance to see a cruise ship’s operations and learn about the needs and what it takes to supply to the cruise lines. Organizers at MHA are planning a second similar event.
Piejs’ will serve two years as President of the MHA. The graduate of hotel schooling in the Netherlands started with Holland America line in 1988 as an assistant dining room maître ‘d. He began working shore side in the 2002 and has held positions in hotel department and as Director of Purchasing.