Trends in Corporate Entertainment – What Are the Pros Predicting for 2014?

We’re still recovering from Thanksgiving dinner (aren’t you?). But articles on dining and entertainment trends always catch our eyes…..no matter how much stuffing we’ve consumed.

So we read Lewis Lazare’s article in the Chicago Business Journal, The biggest corporate party trends in Chicago for 2014, with interest.  Lazare interviewed the CEO of Kapow Events who shared his predictions for the top five corporate entertainment trends in the coming year: ethnic parties, entertaining locally rather than client trips, unique venues, experience-themed events and shorter planning periods.

If, in fact, these trends do pan out, we’ll be happy. It’s hard to top a private luxury yacht on Lake Michigan when you want to entertain clients in a very special venue. And we’re all for staying in town to entertain…..especially if that town is Chicago and it’s summer!  We don’t need to tell you how special Chicago summers are. Especially right about now when the winds are howling and the temperature’s dropping.

If you’re starting to plan corporate….or private…events for next year, now’s a good time to mention that our rates will go up on January 1st. But you can still lock in 2013 rates if you book a 2014 charter before the end of the year.  After all, who doesn’t like to save money and still get a stellar experience!

Almost turkey time……

Thanksgiving always makes us stop to think about all the things we’re grateful for – our health, our family, our friends. And right at the top of that list are clients and friends like you. And feedback like this:

“Angela,

Just wanted to send you a quick note to thank you for the wonderful cruise this Sunday!  We got so many compliments from our guests – everyone enjoyed it. The boat was wonderful, very comfortable. We loved the food! And of course we were so lucky with the weather.

We won’t hesitate to recommend you if anyone is looking for cruises around the lake or the river in the future.

Thanks again to yourself, Captain Joe and the entire crew!”

Steve (Evans)

People like Steve and clients and friends like you are the reason we love what we do at Free Spirit. Few things are as rewarding as knowing that your work is making people happy.

So this is the time of year we like to thank you for your business this past season. You make our days full and our work fulfilling.

We wish you tantalizingly tender turkey and scrumptious stuffing. Sinfully sweet pumpkin pies. And a warm happy holiday with your families and friends.

Enjoy, Everyone!

Already thinking about next season.

Christmas trees are appearing around town (a little early if you ask us). Store windows are suddenly decked out for the holidays. And people are busy planning family gatherings and cozying in for the winter.

Here at Free Spirit, we’re busy planning, too. For next year. Oh sure, we manage to do all the fun holiday stuff and love spending time with family in Florida (yay, warm!) and Chicago. But as one season ends, we’re already starting to plan for the next.

Speaking of next season…..2014 will be the first time in a number of years that we’re raising our rates. With higher fuel, equipment and vendor fees, we need to adjust our rates as well.

But we wanted to let all of our clients and friends (that includes you if you’re reading this blog) know that if you book a 2014 charter before 2013 ends, we’ll hold the 2013 rates.

So if entertaining on a private luxury yacht is in your plans for next season, why not lock in the 2013 rates now? Cause few things are as much fun as hosting a company party or celebrating a special occasion or family event on the blue waters of Lake Michigan. Viewing the magnificent Chicago skyline just doesn’t get much better than that!

Free spirited sea stories…

Everybody loves a good story. And sea stories seem to have a special allure.

Hard not to be captivated by the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow (it doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Johnny Depp!). But sea captains seem to have a knack for spinning tales.

Whether it’s the creative freedom of being out on the water or a way to amuse himself during long stretches at the wheel, we’ve found that Captain Joe can tell a pretty good story as well.

For example…..we often get asked about the little houses out in the middle of Lake Michigan. What are they doing there? So one of the stories Captain Joe told was that the red-and-white stripped building was a McDonald’s. And he sounded totally believable!

Another time, he was telling the story of how there is a tunnel with a railroad track and railcar to get back and forth to the water intake cribs. I busted out laughing and said that’s not true. Well now my mom is saying that Joe may be right. I still can’t find anything to verify this, but it does make a great story.

There is no doubt that the construction of the underwater tunnels was a huge engineering feat at the time. And it’s one of those interesting “did you knows” to share with people visiting Chicago for the first time.

Just be assured that when Captain Joe is telling a good story, it’s all in good fun!

Who’s got the blues?

Temps have dropped. The clocks set back. Winter’s on the way. For those of us who thrive on Chicago summers and hanging out on Lake Michigan, it can be a tough transition.

But there’s so much to do in our town that we prefer to focus on some of the things that make Chicago so special.

Aside from one of the world’s most spectacular skylines, miles of glorious lakefront parks, Wrigley Field and da Bears, Chicago claims fame as the town where blues were born. And if you’re a blues fan, it just doesn’t get much better than Buddy Guy’s Legends. Buddy Guy was named “2013 Chicagoan of the year” by Chicago Magazine.

If you’re a regular, you’ve no doubt heard Vino Louden, lead guitar and bandleader for many years for Chicago legend and “Queen of the Blues” Koko Taylor. Vino’s been around for a while — long enough to have toured with B.B. King and Bonnie Raitt. But he’s a Chicago blues man.

So where, you ask, are we going here? Some of the most fun charters we ever booked were when our clients have hosted a Blue’s Cruise — with Vino singing the blues for all the guests. He was so awesome that one client booked him two years in a row. Here’s a clip so you can see for yourself.

Till summer rolls around again, you can hear Vino at Buddy Guy’s. But when your thoughts drift to next summer and you’re thinking about entertaining clients or friends or staff, booking Vino for a Blue’s Cruise is an awesome option!

Halloween parties. Are you in or out?

Who loves dressing up for Halloween?

Some groups love to dress up. Others, not so much. But Halloween parties just seem to be more fun when guests are in costumes. Vintage, thrift or Salvation Army stores are a great place to find costumes. Or a quick Google search can pull up a list of costume shops online.

Here are a couple of costume ideas that caught our eye:

Quick and Easy (not to mention, cheap!): tape a quarter to your back and go as a “Quarterback”.

This one cracked us up: please don’t squeeze the charmin

A little more flash: electric jelly fish

Now that the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit are in the boat yard for the winter, we’ll be enjoying some trick or treating ourselves. And a party or two. BTW, Captain Joe’s costume is an identity thief.

What routes does the Free Spirit and Gypsy Spirit take?

We hear this question a lot while planning your private yacht cruises. The Free Spirit does a Chicago Lakefront tour while the Gypsy Spirit can do either a Lakefront tour or a Lake and River tour (your choice).

Both tours start out of Burnham Harbor where our yachts are docked. If you’re not familiar with Burnham Harbor, it’s just southeast of Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, and north of McCormick Place, the largest convention center in America.

The Free Spirit cruises north to exit Burnham Harbor, proceeds past Northerly Island and then heads south.  From there we cruise by the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium cut through Monroe Harbor, wave at all of the landllubbers, pass by Buckingham Fountain, the Chicago Yacht Club, the MV “Abegweit” aka: Columbia Yacht Club, Navy Pier, and then North through the “playpen” — that Lake Michigan hangout you see from Lake Shore Drive, north of Navy Pier, where you’ll find a gazillion boaters gathered together enjoying the skyline. If the lake isn’t too bouncy the Free Spirit will cruise past the Harrison-Dever Intake Crib. Check out this old WGN broadcast about “the Crib”, see why it’s so cool!

The Gypsy Spirit can do the same cruise as the Free Spirit or you can head straight for the Chicago River, a unique part of our city, and one that you and your guests will find fascinating. The Chicago River System is 156 miles long and flows through downtown Chicago. It used to flow directly into Lake Michigan until 1900, when the Army Corps of Engineers reversed the flow of the river to prevent a recurrence of epidemics, giving Chicago the world’s only river to flow backwards. Just an interesting bit of trivia about our city! When you cruise with us, we can provide a tour guide to entertain you with anecdotes about Chicago history, architecture and fun facts.

Spectacular Chicago Summer

Labor Day is just around the corner. Kids have started back to school. Backpacks have replaced beach towels as another summer draws to an end.

This has been a spectacular Chicago summer! Blue skies, sunshine, strings of perfect 70-something temperatures. “Like San Diego” we keep hearing people say.

The good news is that there’s still another month of boating season on Lake Michigan. And you better believe that a September afternoon…. relaxing on a private yacht taking in Chicago’s breathtaking skyline…. is pretty wonderful.

So If one of those “meant to do’s” that you never got around to was to book a yacht charter, you’ll be happy to know there’s still a little time before season officially ends. You just might be able to squeeze in a fun family gathering, a get together with friends, or a company party before the boats go to bed for the winter.

To check dates, give us a call at 708.361.2220 or email angela@freespiritcruises.com.

We wish you a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

Never cruised with us?

A guest on a recent client outing commented that she had no idea there were yachts like our Free Spirit or Gypsy Spirit available for charter on Lake Michigan. So it occurred to us that unless you’ve cruised with us, you might NOT know what our yachts are like.

We’re not a “big ship” cruise company. Our yachts are smaller and much more intimate than the boats you see docked at Navy Pier…..which is why our clients love our yachts for smaller parties, meetings and events.

To give you a better idea of what a Free Spirit Yacht Cruise is like, we thought we’d share this video with you. It was taken on our recent Merlot & Massage Cruise….one of our favorite summer events.

Hope you enjoy it!

Proud to be an American

Our country’s birthday is a day filled with celebration. Fireworks and picnics. Hanging out with family and friends around the grill. Hot dogs, burgers and corn-on-the-cob. Mega 4th of July sales.

But what we’re really celebrating is our freedom – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The dream of our forefathers over 200 years ago. The dream of every immigrant coming to America. The reality that makes us proud to stand up and pledge allegiance to the flag — the symbol of all that we hold dear in this country.

We’re proud to fly the American flag on our yachts. We never get tired of watching it  wave in the wind as we cruise Lake Michigan. It reminds us every day of how fortunate we are to live in a land where “we the people” are free to choose our own destinies.

All of us at Free Spirit Yacht Cruises wish you and your family a very happy and safe 4th of July.