I write this sitting on a comfortable chair, feet propped up, staring out at an endless ocean of…well…ocean!  I’m currently about 70 miles out of Bermuda aboard the Enchantment of the Seas Royal Caribbean liner on the Seminars at Sea Cruise.  I love this kind of work.  We should do more of it.  It’s three-and-a-half days at sea, two-and-a-half-days on Bermuda…and 16 Professional Development Units.  As I was sitting at dinner last night with my students from the seminar, I couldn’t help but think that organizations are truly “missing the boat” when it comes to their approaches to training. They feel that somehow sending people to a darkened classroom in Oklahoma City for two days is more conducive to learning than coupling the training with activities their personnel want.

Think about it.  A two-day professional workshop generally costs in the $400-700 range.  Flying team members to Cincinnati or Oklahoma City (two of the most expensive airports in the country, believe it ior not) is going to add another $500 or more to the tab.  Their hotel rooms won’t be what I like to call “Big Apple Expensive”, but they’ll probably run $100 a night for at least two, probably three, nights.  Add $50 a day for food and incidentals and you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag:

$1300-1500 per person…plus the total lost work time (one day added for the flight out or back) of three days.

Now think about it.  A two-day professional workshop conducted on a sea cruise.  While the ship is at sea, the participants are in class during the day.  At night, they have all the amenities of a first-class vacation.  And during the week, they’re rewarded with a couple of days on Bermuda.  Since one end of the cruise laps over into a weekend, the total lost work time is, at most, four days.   The price tag?

$1300-1500 per person…plus the possibility (and only a possibility) of an additional lost work day.

Which makes you look more like the HR champion?  Sending folks on training they actually can’t WAIT to sign up for?  Or forcing them to go to a city an work through the training with little to look forward to at night except room service?

“Carl?  Actually, in my organization, I look more like a hero when it looks less like a boondoggle.”

OK, so the more your personnel suffer, the better you look?  That makes very little sense on any level.  Of the folks on this PDU cruise, most paid for it themselves, AFRAID of the organizational reaction.  That’s criminal.  They WANT the training.  They WANT the environment, and the organizations they work for have a chance to look like heros for stepping up to pay for it.  It’s a tragedy that more HR folks aren’t sufficiently aware of this to realize that they can use training as a carrot.

Another note about the plusses of this experience…The instructors who can put this kind of event together are generally not inexperienced, second-tier instructors using your training as a proving ground.  They’re professionals at the top of their craft.

(Author’s note:  I just saw a flying fish.  Very cool.)

The sun is glistening off the water and we’re about two hours out of port now.  My students (who have already completed their first day of training) will be hanging out in Hamilton Bermuda, Horseshoe Bay and at the oldest cast iron lighthouse in the hemisphere.  They’ll come back in three days, ready for Day Two of the training event, anxious to share the experiences of their previous three days.  They’ll be energized,, enthused, rested and refreshed when they get back to the office at the end of the week.  Their bosses will get back staff who are ready to try new tools and techniques.  They will get back staff who are ready to take a deep breath and face the challenges of the new days ahead.  It’s a huge win-win.

This is my fourth seminars-at-sea cruise, and each time, I’ve been asked the same question…”Why isn’t this room packed!?  I was sure that every possible seat would be filled.  This is such a deal!”  Each time, my answer is the same.  “I have no idea.  I’m just thrilled you’re here.”

(Carl sets sail in August 2013 from New York with Risk Management Excellence training to Boston and Halifax.  And in 2014, it’s an April cruise to Aruba, sailing from Miami.  Want to find out more?  E-mail carl at carl@carlpritchard.com)