Corporate-focused travel company, 1000 Mile Travel Group, has witnessed exponential growth in cruising, beyond expectation, since expanding its operation into the United States last year.
Entrepreneurs Nicola Veltman and Ben Ross, who through the backing of Corporate Travel Management (CTM) rapidly upscaled their business and relocated to the US last year to tackle the lucrative North American market, told LATTE they’ve been pleasantly surprised by the amount of cruise business their ICs would be turning over.
Throughout their travel industry careers, the duo has sailed around nine voyages between them. This week, they are sailing aboard Oceania Cruises’ luxurious new ship, Vista, as a guest of the cruise line’s North American operation supported by Joe Eastep, Senior Director of Business Development.
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Veltman said the work-from-anywhere specialists had always generated business from the cruise space but the relocation to Colorado had opened up the segment to a new level.
“Fifty percent of what we are doing right now in the US is cruising,” Veltman revealed to LATTE.
She said that given the ongoing demand for cruising in that market, 1000 MTG is now looking at how they can develop cruising in other regions, including back in Australia and the UK, where corporate travel has been the lifeblood of the business at around 85% of their revenue.
“Now with this wider exposure to the cruise industry we’re definitely looking at creating similar relationships that we have in the US to other parts of the world,” Veltman explained. Those relationships also include the likes of Virtuoso, which 1000 Mile Travel Group is now a member under its own brand in the US, Australia, and LATTE can exclusively reveal, soon-to-be in the UK.
Veltman said before relocating to Denver they hadn’t fully understood how much of their business in the US would be for cruising, and given the uptick, now “plan to hone in on the space even more”.
An example of that drive is Ross recently attended CLIA’s Crruise360 showcase in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where he had the opportunity to immerse himself deeper into the segment, gain further insight and build new partnerships.
“We’ve got such great relationships with our suppliers and our vendors and they just keep coming to us, aware of what we are projecting and what our trajectory is. We’ve got a lot of opportunity when it comes to our leisure-focused independent contractors, and with corporate as well because there is the executive-leisure market.”
“We have a great opportunity to cross-sell across the two niches. We’ve got our leisure ICs who can pick up the corporate executive leisure, and then we have our corporate that can pick up corporate business coming from the leisure as well,” Veltman said.
Ross added that what 1000 MTG’s North American ICs are extremely good at is the corporate-to-leisure business. “All of that CTM business goes to our ICs. And what we’re going to do now is move that to Australia and the UK as well.”
“All of those corporate businesses, they’re booking leisure travel somewhere and we want to make sure it’s going to our independent contractors. It’s going to be a game-changer,” Ross said with confidence.
“It’s quite a unique offering,” added Veltman.
1000 Mile Travel Group’s ICs are selling cruise product across the board, including brands such as Seabourn and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and also Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean.
‘There is quite a wide breadth of what we do sell and will depend on the market of the IC. We don’t want to make that decision on their behalf.”
“Cruising continues to be a learning curve for us,” Ross added.
Quizzed by LATTE if cruising could become a standalone arm of 1000 Mile Travel Group in the future, the couple said there is potential and they had mulled the prospect.
“We’ve spoken about it. We’re looking at all angles and we really want to grow and nurture what we’ve got, and grow that as well.”