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Travel Leaders: Scott Ellis, Chief Sales Officer, APT Travel Group

Scott Ellis, recently promoted to Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at APT Travel Group, embodies the spirit of dedication and passion that defines the company and the travel industry as a whole. Karryon chats to him about transparency, trust and catching salmon with bear cubs. 

Scott Ellis, recently promoted to Chief Sales Officer (CSO) at APT Travel Group, embodies the spirit of dedication and passion that defines the company and the travel industry as a whole. Karryon chats to him about transparency, trust and catching salmon with bear cubs. 

Before beginning his 20+ years at APT Travel Group, Scott was a travel agent. 

“When I was a travel agent, I sold a lot of APT because I knew that if I recommended APT, they would deliver,” he tells Karryon. 

So becoming a BDM for APT was a “natural transition”, he says. And his background as an agent provided him with invaluable insights into the needs and expectations of agents and their clients. 

“I always felt it was the best background to come into wholesale because I could appreciate exactly how the agents work and what they need from a partner,” he says. 

The importance of the agent supplier relationship has never left Scott’s orbit, no matter how high he rises.  

“We have a team of 16 BDMs, who are all incredibly passionate about driving sales with their agent partners,” he tells Karryon

“And we understand the responsibility for our business within their business.”

According to Scott, for a lot of APT’s key agency accounts, APT can represent up to 20% of the agency’s revenue. 

“There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that because if they have a great year with APT, their business will have a great year. So we really need to understand each of our individual partners, what their business looks like and then tailor our service and product to that business. 

“We strive to be an all-encompassing business partner. We are the largest on road sales team, we drive enquiry with our marketing, offer a diverse portfolio, have the best agent recognition program and an Australian Call Centre. We’re no one trick pony, what we really want to do is invest in every component of the partnership.

“We sit down with our business owners and say, ‘Okay, how do we drive business?’ We look at community engagement, what opportunities are available with local clubs or associations that we can engage with? What sort of local area marketing would we do? What consumer events can we host for you? And that’s where we would like to invest. We want to help these businesses really achieve.”

Leading with vision and integrity

When he moved into roles that required the managing of staff, Scott felt the rewards of helping his team achieve their goals and “be the best versions of themselves”. And as he made his way through the ranks at APT, this never changed. 

Scott Ellis, APT Travel Group

Scott’s promotion to CSO is a testament to his leadership qualities and strategic vision. As part of APT’s executive team, he plays a crucial role in shaping the company’s future, providing high-level strategies to steer the business forward.

But for Scott, leadership is more than just strategy; it’s about transparency, collaboration, and empowerment. 

“There’s a couple of things for me around leadership. One is transparency. Our business is very good at being transparent, not just passing on the good news, but passing on all the news,” he emphasises. 

This approach ensures that everyone in the team understands the decisions being made and why, and their role in achieving the common goal.

Collaboration is key, Scott says. With everyone’s input there is a clear understanding and a more likely achievement of success. 

“In our business, trust is huge. We believe that we’ve got the right people, we trust the team and so they feel empowered to do what they need to succeed. I think that gets the best out of our people.”

Innovation and growth

“APT is Australian Pacific Touring and we never forget our core DNA,” Scott says. But that doesn’t just mean extensively exploring Australia, it means seeing the world “through Australian eyes and an Australian palate”.

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He talks here about APT Europe river cruising and how every ship sold in AU market has been designed and built for the Americans. But the markets are different. And Australians travel longer. American ships will only feature one or two restaurants, which were built for a 7 night cruise. APT ships cater for the Australian market with 6 speciality restaurants, providing choice on a 14 night cruise.

“The great thing around our industry is that there is a lot of evolution and there’s a lot of innovation and investment,” Scott says. 

“But the focus has been in the ocean cruise sector, which has been brilliant. Whereas these river cruises in Europe really represent the first time that we’ve seen such innovation and standards in the river cruise category in a while. 

“Ten years ago, it was very competitive. Everyone was building new ships, but there’s been a sort of a pause in recent years around new ship builds and serious innovation. So it’s  been an open opportunity for us to go in and shake it up.”

Looking to the future

As APT approaches its 100-year anniversary, Scott is optimistic about the future. The company’s aggressive growth strategy and investment in new products and experiences promise to position APT as a leader in the travel industry. 

“We’re ready to go. We’re essentially launching a new generation of APT,” he says. 

And what that means for those travel agents who align with APT’s growth strategy is that the will be well-positioned for success in the years to come.

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Why we do it

Scott remembers watching lion cubs wrestling in Africa, a mumma bear teaching her cubs to catch salmon in Alaska (unsuccessfully)… “All that was missing was David Attenborough doing the voiceover.”

“I remember swimming in the Galapagos Islands and a seal coming up to me and seeing its reflection in my goggles. It was swimming and doing circles and I was just in awe of this seal interacting with me. I’ll never forget that. 

“And that’s what I love about travel. We’re providing these opportunities for clients to experience things that they’re not going to get staying at home. 

“It’s really only when travelling and seeing the communities and the cultures and the wildlife that the world has to offer. That’s our purpose.

“I find it incredibly enriching that we’re able to offer the consumer moments that become memories that stay with them for life. 

“We’re providing that platform for all the stories they will tell. I don’t think you can compare that to other industries or other sectors. What we’re able to do in terms of enrichment in life is profound.”