Say hello to the people of the industry who’ve chosen to work in ‘travel for life’ and who see the travel industry as one with massive growth. These are the ultra passionate, much-loved folk that continue to inspire others by going above and beyond in their everyday roles.
This week we catch up with the inspiring and energetic Amanda McClelland (CEO of Cruiseco). Amanda shares how she joined the Cruise Industry along with insights to Cruising trends and she answers the big questions such as “Why do people leave the industry and return?”.
How did you get started in the Travel Industry?
My professional career started in telecommunications where I learned firsthand how to create a market, sell a vision, and create something from nothing. Telco’s are experts at creating a product and selling it through broad distribution models, from independent brands right through to resellers. Seeking a change in industries, I jumped at the chance to join Carnival Australia. Working at Carnival was an amazing experience, and I had the opportunity to work on a broad range of interesting projects including the launch of P&O’s Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden. It was a fantastic chance to be part of an organisation redefining the contemporary cruise experience and sparked a passion for the sector.
How has the cruise industry changed in the past 12 months?
Over the last 12 months Cruiseco has been focused on creating complete holiday solutions and becoming a disrupter. Customers are now increasingly making spur of the moment bookings which means we have to ensure our product is the best at all times.
How important are travel agents to Cruiseco?
Cruiseco is all about our members. Everything we do is focused on enabling our agents to be The Cruise Specialists and equipping them with the resources they need to attract and engage customers.
How important are travel agents to our industry?
The tyranny of distance for Australians to the rest of the world means getting travel right is critical. At the same time, Australians have a love of travel that is almost unmatched worldwide, so the range and diversity of travel options is seemingly endless. For Cruise Lines, a good travel agent is crucial to attracting customers and matching them to the right travel experience to suit them. At the same time, whilst customers can research and plan their holidays online, many still turn to travel agents to help them navigate the overwhelming and often self-created, information overload. Cruise customers are also twice as likely to use a travel agent when booking a holiday than non-cruisers. This in turn evolves the role which our members play.
What’s the latest news and messages coming from Cruiseco?
We are really proud of our Cruiseco Collections – a range of curated cruises for our members. The Collections are unique, compelling and most importantly, designed to ensure all passengers can find something they will love to create memories that last a lifetime. Our Cruiseco Collection provide the best of a destination, great value for money and make choosing an overseas cruise holiday easy for consumers across all types of cruising. The core ideals of our founders Kevin Dale and Phil Hoffmann of bringing premium cruise sellers together in collaboration instead of competition are as important today as they were 17 years ago.
What kind of trends are you seeing with travellers?
• The constant need to deliver more & be innovative with product and experiences
• The rise of partnerships with brands & trendsetters
• Focus on itinerary curation, in-depth experience and more authentic, local experiences
• Increased traveler demand for more unique modern dining experiences
• A shift towards catering to a younger mindset
• Enhancing the luxury of the expedition
• Health and wellness trends – increase in Australians seeking a balanced experience while travelling
• Combination of the elements- e.g. authentic yoga experiences in Asia bring together wellness and culture
• Millennials are starting to cruise and they aren’t just looking for lower cost options
Were there any statistics that surprised you?
We have been working through the path-to-purchase for consumers and the findings reveal significant opportunities for brands. Luth Research found consumers take an average of 419 digital steps over a 2 month purchase period – 34 searches, 5 video views and 380 web pages visits. Consumers are overwhelmed with options and the task of researching a holiday is getting more complex. Travel agents are becoming increasingly more relevant and travel brands that can simplify the path-to-purchase for consumers will gain their awareness and interest.
Are there new destinations in focus? If so what are the top 3?
Japan is very popular right now and we believe Asia cruises will continue to be popular for consumers who are with a great range of options for all types of travelers. South America is a destination that offers so many amazing options and you can experience a different culture every few days. Alaska continues to be very popular it’s easy to see why. With spectacular scenery and countless opportunities for wildlife watching, a wide variety of outdoor activities and the chance to explore the cultures of the many indigenous people that still live within the wilderness known it’s easy to see why it is one of the most popular cruise destinations.
Who inspires you in the industry?
Our industry has so many entrepreneurial operators and being an enduring SME in a competitive market place is not for the faint-hearted. I have so much respect for those who are creating opportunities in their communities and making dreams come true for their clients.
What message would you share to a student entering the industry for the first time?
I think I would say be passionate about the industry and as I am an entrepreneur at heart I would say respect any business owner and think about how you can add value to their organisation.
Why do you think people leave the industry and return?
Working in the travel industry is all about making other people’s holiday dreams come true, but the reality of client expectations, competitors and profit margins can sometimes dampen people’s passion for the industry. I experienced it myself though, when you leave travel, you’re very quickly reminded that there are good and bad elements of every job, and the benefits, joy and excitement that come from working within the travel industry vastly outweigh the negatives!
What changes can we make in the industry to make it more inspirational for people to work in?
The travel industry needs to invest in more learning and career development opportunities to become more competitive when retaining talent. While we will always attract great people who are passionate about travel, it is important that their capabilities remain within the industry as we continue to evolve. I also believe we should celebrate the amazing people and organisations in our industry to show other sectors just how great travel is!
What has been your most memorable trip?
My most memorable would be travelling to Italy with my husband, daughter and now son-in law for a month in 2017. Experiencing authentic local travel was incredibly special, with a few highlights including renting a villa near Rome’s Campo de Fiori and shopping at the markets each day for fresh cheese and meat, sailing along the Amalfi Coast and driving around the many towns and villages in the south of Italy.
If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
I have always wanted to experience the Galapagos Islands – cruising on a small ship and seeing such an amazingly unique destination in luxury would be wonderful.
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