How One Huge Tech Conference Made An Unlikely Addition To Its Room Block

Author: David McMillin       

As a meeting planner, you know the realities of arranging a room block. First, a destination can only have so many hotel rooms. Second, the hoteliers in that destination may not be willing to commit the number of rooms you need to meet attendee demand. Third, the attendees coming to the conference aren’t going to be very happy if they have to stay 30 miles away from the venue.

How do you overcome these challenges? Take a cue from global tech giant, Salesforce. Last week, the company’s annual Dreamforce conference expanded beyond the typical room block. In addition to offering discounts at 100 properties (this conference is the definition of “citywide”) in San Francisco, the conference welcomed a cruise ship to the Bay Area waterfront.

Yes, a cruise ship. It was called the Dreamboat. And it looked incredible.

Forget hosting happy hour in the hotel lobby or trying to get reservations at one of the San Francisco hotspots on land. Attendees who stayed on the Dreamboat could network in an on-board wine cellar, soak in the sunshine on the pool deck, enjoy crêpes in a casual crêperie and much more. In fact, they didn’t even have to leave the ship for the conference. A theater on decks 4 and 5 streamed the keynotes.

Not surprisingly, the Dreamboat sold out. However, pricing for this experience included some relatively affordable options. The cheapest option, an Interior Stateroom, went for $250/night. On the other end, the $850/night Premium Suite included separate dining and living areas and a private veranda. For a full tour of the experience, click here to check out a tour of the boat with Business Insider.

Want to get onboard? You may be in luck. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff told USA TODAY that he wants two ships at next year’s conference. Count me in.

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