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Top cruise advisor insights: Martin Cummings, Founder, Elite Cruising and Tours

Like many successful travel advisors, Martin Cummings started travelling at an early age. After 19 years in the travel industry, founded Elite Cruising and Tours in 2022. He shares his insider insights on what he's gleaned on all things luxury, cruising and travel.

Like many successful travel advisors, Martin Cummings started travelling at an early age. After 19 years in the travel industry, founded Elite Cruising and Tours in 2022. He shares his insider insights on what he’s gleaned on all things luxury, cruising and travel.

Although Martin Cummings’ Elite Cruising and Tours agency is based in Sydney, as a member of the highly respected Mobile Travel Agents (MTA) network his company is fully remote and virtual.

“In an era when flexibility is key and clients are often time-poor, this is a perfect business model – both advisor and client can connect easily via digital platforms,” he said.

“We are a powerhouse team of two, although we are currently looking for more talent to join the team.” (Advisors take note!).

Martin in Venice.
Elite Cruising and Tours
Martin in Venice

Why join the travel industry?

I always loved the excitement leading up to a trip and being part of the planning process but mostly I just loved seeing new destinations, experiencing different cultures and learning about the world we live in.

I pursued studies in travel and tourism and first became a travel consultant when I was 18 years old. Fast forward 19 years and I have worked my entire career in travel, living on multiple different continents and have been privileged enough to visit many incredible destinations.

How do you define ‘luxury cruising’?

On a personal level, it’s about something that makes me feel a little bit special and excited.

We all lead quite different lives and have different values, so although as an industry we define and label certain companies ‘Luxury’, ‘Premium’, ‘Elite’ and so on, it’s more important for us as advisors to ask this exact question of our clients. What luxury means to our clients will match the right product and that is more important than the label we give it.

Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Luxembourg Gardens, Paris

What do you see as major trends in luxury cruising?

We are seeing that our clients are booking a lot of expedition cruises or small-ship cruising that is destination- or region-focused, often to less-visited destinations and typically on an extended version whenever possible.

This couples well with the trend in land holidays where clients often seek a more immersive experience, for example, they prefer to become a familiar face in the local coffee shop rather than taking a whirlwind tour around as many places as they can fit in.

While the average lead time for booking most sailings is between six and nine months, bigger bucket-list trips such as a luxury expedition cruise to Antarctica or a world voyage are planned well in advance.

Airfares in 2023 prompted travellers to be a bit more organised and strategic with their time and budget but now these are slowly starting to come down, impulsive trips for the right deal are another possibility and work well for our clients who have fewer time restrictions.

On board the Crystal Symphony
Martin Cummings
Cruising with Crystal Symphony

If you could take just one dream luxury cruise this year, what would it be?

Just one? Antarctica has been on my hit list for a while now. I am fascinated by it as a destination and would love to experience it. Plus, I sell a lot of luxury expedition cruises to Antarctica, so it would help me give clients an even more personal explanation as to what they can expect on their trip.

What advice would you give to someone embarking on a career as a travel advisor today?

Asking great questions, really listening to the answers and anticipating customers’ needs is going to make building strong relationships easier. It will save you time in the long run and will help grow your sales.

Value these relationships and your reputation over a quick win and always look ahead to what impact a decision today will have on you tomorrow. It’s more than money and time, it’s about creating memories and adding value to someone’s experience in life.”

The travel industry is a fun and exciting adventure and it takes many people’s involvement to make it all come together.

Develop strong relationships with your suppliers, internal support teams and fellow travel advisors (including competition); you will learn and grow through this network and this will be your lifeline to future success.

Find out more at elitecruisingandtours.au.