Raja Ampat Company Getaway

Raja Ampat’s Hidden Iceberg

Stodgy conferencing has fermented past its sell-by day – and with good reason. Raja Ampat in Indonesia is an under-utilised MICE hub just waiting to be explored.

MICE is one of the fastest-growing business sectors in the world. Estimates conducted by Allied Market Research peg industry at a growth of 7.6% per annum, with much of that growth taking place in developing nations. This is incredibly exciting news. That said, the legacy impact of the MICE industry – and travel within the MICE industry, particularly – is hard to quantify, with researchers regularly finding positive impacts reverberate long past the dates of the event itself. Participants, venues, the local economy, the locals themselves and even the environment can stand to benefit from this ever-expanding global sector. This means that a growing MICE sector bodes well for the future and that this incredibly positive industry should be taken to parts of the world that are unexplored.

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MICE IS CHANGING

Maritz Global Events’ 2019 Trend Report found that one of the growing trends in the thriving MICE sector is a demand for experiences as opposed to dull, traditional conferencing set-ups. Millennial managers are saying out with the boardroom, and in with the unforgettable; researchers encourage event organisers to look beyond hotels and conference centres to venues that will stick out. This actually echoes the notion of the iceberg legacy of the event – not just on the destination and suppliers, but on the participants themselves. Gone is the desire to passively receive key nuggets of information from the event organisers and speakers. Event participants want to acquire memories that they can carry with them long beyond the days they spend at the event; they want to be able to talk about it afterwards and to share stories; they want to learn and to walk away transfigured into better versions of themselves.

They are more interested than ever in bringing families along and many cosmopolitan corporate employees are interested in returning to MICE destinations as tourists afterwards, further benefitting the local economy and its suppliers. This means corporates should have a vested interest in working towards taking their employees to non-traditional destinations, and to prioritising experiential design above old-fashioned event planning strategies.

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Another massive trend in eventing at the moment is a hard pivot towards sustainability. Once more, this is most likely the result of an acknowledgement of the iceberg – while we can see the top (that is to say, the positive impacts or negative shifts caused by an event), both harm and benefits linger on long after the days of the delegates’ stays. This means that considering the social and environmental impact of each possible event, and not only minimising damage but – in fact – causing positive change, becomes a priority for corporates and event organisers. Of course, environmental and social can be hard to ascertain internally, so it is vital to look for service providers who prioritise these sorts of issues.

Finally, a trend in MICE has been a drive towards working in the developing world, as opposed to returning to the same few Western venues. It’s an exciting trend, not only because it ties into the ideas of social responsibility discussed above (the lower part of the legacy iceberg continues to affect the parts of the world that desperately require positive investment), but because it has opened up a whole set of new destinations previously underutilised.

Few destinations have as much of the above to offer as Raja Ampat, which means that this unspoilt pocket of paradise is the ideal venue for your 2019 corporate voyage.

AN INTRODUCTION TO RAJA AMPAT

But what is Raja Ampat? Even sophisticated travellers frown in confusion at the name. The Raja Ampat Islands are a remote archipelago off the coast of Indonesia, consisting of four main islands and one smaller one. This peculiar structure of the archipelago (as well is its otherworldly magnificence) has lent it the nickname ‘The Four Kings’. These four majestic kings offer select tourists an exclusive, unspoiled and largely unseen destination experience.

There are many things that make this little corner of the ocean thoroughly unforgettable and account for the Islands’ grandiose nickname. Firstly, there are the idyllic conditions of the ocean itself. Raja Ampat boasts the best waters and most abundant marine life in the South-East Asian region and is renowned among yachting experts for its pristine sailing conditions. Secondly, science considers it one of the premier sites for marine biology in the world. It has been recorded as holding 75% of all known species of ornamental and coral fish in the world and continues to be a vital spot for researchers who seek to develop knowledge on oceanic life.

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Both the marine diversity and importance for research tie back to the Indonesian Throughflow Current, which passes through Raja Ampat. This important current provides a route for warm water to flow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean and is a key path in the global heat conveyor belt (which warms up oceans internationally and in turn maintains overall climate around the world). This information is not intended as a science lesson – rather, it’s to say that the waters off the coasts of the “Four Kings” are always crystal clear and balmy in temperature, due to its fortuitous placement on the planet.

Finally, the islands themselves have a lot to offer. There are untouched jungles, local cultures and authentic cultural sites which offer a unique glimpse at an underexplored part of the world.

In short, it is no surprise that this island chain has been called the most beautiful one in all of South East Asia and, many would argue, on our planet at large. It is a bucket list destination; it is an experience that can only be compared to scaling to the very top of Mount Everest or wandering deep around the Amazon jungles.

THE LOGISTICS

Passport holders from most nation-states do not require a visa to visit Indonesia, which makes it a logistically simple trip, particularly for multi-national groups. Furthermore, flights to Indonesia are easy to find, as the island nation has a host of international airports, which are serviced by both its own national air-carrier and a number of other major airlines. The busiest airport is in Jakarta, from where it is possible to catch a connecting commercial flight to Sorong, on Raja Ampat itself. It is also possible to charter a private jet to fly directly to Sorong, which decreases travel time and inconvenience; if chartering a plane, it will be necessary to stop for customs clearance at Manado, as the airport in Sorong does not have the facilities.

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After that, one need only hop on a yacht and sail into the most beautiful slice of the Pacific Ocean. Meridian Adventure Sail are the leaders in luxury yachting in the Raja Ampat region and industry leaders around the world at large. Aboard one of their fully-crewed yachts, tourists (whether they’ve come for business or pleasure) can relax, embrace adventure, or turn their mind to the weight of the issue on their minds.

EVENTING IN RAJA AMPAT

Naturally, an incentive trip to Raja Ampat would go down a treat for any delegate. The region provides idyllic conditions for diving and snorkelling, and a chance to see unique specimens of marine life. In a world where safaris have saturated the incentive travel industry, this is an oceanic safari, unlike anything even the best-travelled delegate would have experienced. Those who don’t quite have their sea-legs in order will enjoy the many possible land excursions in the area. The jungles of Raja Ampat remain unharmed by civilisations and are host to a number of fascinating places to visit (including ancient runes). Your delegates will also have a chance to explore and laze upon the islands’ stunning beaches or hike to one of many viewpoints that allow for a sweeping panoramic view of the surrounding, smaller islands. All are bursting with authentic experiences and activities that the intrepid adventurers amongst your party will savour.

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But as much as an incentive trip may look beckoning, there are other ways to make use of the area as well, particularly in line with the recent MICE trends discussed above. Aboard one of Meridian Adventure Sail’s luxury sailing yachts, the event participants can disconnect from the troubles of the external world and focus on the issues at hand. Meridian’s state-of-the-art fully-crewed yachts have space for meetings on them and have a slick staff used to taking care of premium guests.

Being onboard one of these yachts provides delegates with a powerful bonding experience. There are facilities for formal conferencing and for informal discussion over a five-star lunch or dinner, served by the yachts’ expert crews. There are satellite internet services onboard, which run from capped packages for the casual user to uncapped packages for those who require to plug-in to the world beyond the confines of the galley. But even with WiFi turned on, a trip onboard a Meridian Adventure Sail yacht allows delegates to get off the grid and plug into one another in a way that is simply impossible in a traditional conferencing setting, where outside pressures about. Onboard one of these yachts, executives, treasured employees and loyal clients are able to engage one another on a different level, reaching new corporate heights and personal and professional clarity by immersing themselves in the problems du jour. Meridian Adventure yachts give delegates a chance to work without distractions, without the hum of every day, and to have an intimate, treasured experience.

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This is a perfect way to host your next corporate strategy plan, a small conference, a team-building session and a host of other possible exclusive events; events that go well beyond the confines of a traditional incentive. Go off-grid and re-calibrate as you explore Indonesia’s captivating geography, as you dabble in diving, observe the abundant wildlife in the region and experience the dynamic culture of the local islands.

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More than that, Meridian Adventure Sail’s wholehearted commitment to ocean conservation means that your environmental footprint will be negligible. Every single decision made onboard the yachts are designed to protect this patch of heaven-on-earth, and preserve it for generations to come. As such, itineraries are flexible – the focus of the crew is always to honour the wildlife in the area and the beauty of this unblemished oceanic dreamland.

This is the perfect expedition for your team – Raja Ampat awaits!

MERIDIAN ADVENTURE | SAIL as seen in press