Set to celebrate its 30th anniversary next week in Naples, Florida, the Marine Hotel Association (MHA) Executive Director Caroline Pritchard said: “Who we are and what we do has not changed much. We started out with sound objectives and they are still valid: simply to create a forum of dialogue between cruise lines and vendors.

“We have a community of people and nurture relationships. We are small enough so we can be informal and cruise line executives are approachable during our events.”

Future Plans

The MHA will mark its anniversary at its conference and trade show April 12 – 14, 2015, at the Naples Grand Beach Resort in Naples, Florida.

“When you start with something good, a simple objective, and build an association, you can continue to evolve,” Pritchard continued. “Change does not mean we have to reinvent ourselves, and we can turn change into progress. The key is to keep ourselves relevant and getting bigger does mean getting better.”

Thus, the MHA limits the size of its trade shows so that vendors are able to spend quality time with cruise line executives.

“We like to think that our members feel that they are part of a community and that they want to work toward our success as their association. Our slogan is that the MHA is by and for the industry.”

A separate conference and workshop is being planned for the fall, which will “probably take place on a ship,” according to Pritchard. “We want this to be a learning experience for suppliers,” she said. “There are a lot of new people, and our goal is to make them successful – to understand the industry, trends and policies, and being able to navigate the corporate maze. Aboard they will be able to spend more one-on-one time with cruise line executives.”

By and For the Industry

“The cruise industry is more complicated today; many cruise lines are undergoing dramatic changes; and we can provide a venue for dialogue, sharing of thoughts and best practices and help as much as we can,” she said.

In addition, the MHA is committed to the professional development of crew and officers, having offered scholarships from the very beginning, and running programs jointly with educational institutions. Being a non-profit organization, revenue from the trade show and memberships are funneled into scholarships and education.

“Our focus is relatively simple,” Pritchard added. “We stick to supporting the marine hotel environment. But we are not standing still; we move forward within what we do; and our current board is very proactive.”

The membership includes about 360 companies, including cruise lines.