Coffee break: Brad Bennetts, APT & Travelmarvel

Coffee break: Brad Bennetts, APT & Travelmarvel

Brad Bennets talks to Cruise Adviser about the future of APT & Travelmarvel

Brad Bennetts, APT & Travelmarvel’s head of sales & business development tells Rebecca Barnes about its agents-first approach and ultra luxury partnerships

How are you currently working with the trade?

At APT & Travelmarvel we are proudly agents-first. Today, around 70 per cent of our business comes through the trade, and we have made significant investment into our agent-facing team with the aim of delivering the very best support in the business for our partners. Every agent has the backing of our expert team to help them to achieve their full sales potential. With a dedicated business development manager and a direct line to our fast-responding office-based specialists, we are always on hand to keep things running smoothly. We offer industry-leading product and sales training, enticing tactical campaigns and offers, beautifully designed sales and marketing assets, the best product in the market, and loads of fam trip places; with information easily accessible on APT Agent Club ( This is a very exciting time to be working with our luxury and premium brands. We are three years into an aggressive campaign to raise the bar – not just for our company but for the wider industry. Even we weren’t prepared for the momentum that followed the launch of our Travelmarvel Contemporary Ships in Europe, and inaugural yachting programme in Croatia. The quality of our ships, itineraries and service, delivered at such outstanding value, have created an unprecedented volume of new customers and repeat bookings for agent partners. With Mekong Serenity now sailing her first full season through Vietnam to Cambodia, offering the largest entry level suites on the Mekong River; and the maiden voyage of Travelmarvel’s new ship on the Douro, the MS Estrela, taking place at the end of August, 2024 is another exciting year. APT will also be launching two ultra-luxury, architect designed ships next year which will set a new standard for European river cruising. A dedicated, UK-exclusive Travelmarvel itinerary on the Danube will guarantee our partners the capacity that they have been asking for, and more chances to sell this highly in-demand product to their customers in 2025.

Do you have any plans for enhanced trade partner relationships?

We have been on a journey to create the best trade support service in the business, growing our sales team to its biggest ever size. Having recruited the best business development managers in the industry, and creating a dedicated resource for homeworkers, I truly believe that we have achieved this goal. I am incredibly proud of the infrastructure we have created and the direct benefits this is having for agents, as they expand the volume and margins of their river cruise business. With our dynamic APT Agent Hub as the central resource for our partners, we have a strategic schedule of timely and sector-leading campaigns, tools and assets to help agents grow their sales and revenue throughout the year. Taking a bespoke approach, we work in tandem with our partners to create joint marketing campaigns, special events for agents’ customers, carefully tailored training seminars, new incentives, and exclusive distribution opportunities. We are also investing heavily into our familiarisation programmes, giving more agents the opportunity to experience the luxury of our five-star APT product, and the outstanding quality and value of our flexible four-star Travelmarvel holidays. Year-on-year we continue to grow our presence at trade-facing events, and to make investments that ensure our partners have real-time access to our team and the fastest response times when they need information or support. 

A standard suite on new ships Ostara and Solara. Image: APT & Travelmarvel

How and why did the Seabourn partnership come about?

We’re on a mission to elevate the APT brand to the very forefront of ultra-luxury. In addition to the new custom-built ships that our guests can enjoy in Asia and Europe, we are creating strategic partnerships with like-minded brands that will allow us to expand and offer these enhanced experiences in even more destinations. Seabourn leads the field in first-class expedition cruising, making them the perfect partner for APT’s expansion in this space. Our exciting new partnership marries our near century of touring expertise with Seabourn’s proven excellence in luxury service delivery at sea. Together we are offering guests the finest fleet and the most meticulously created itineraries in the market, and redefining luxury expedition cruising for our most discerning customers. 


What are the USPs of your new river ships Ostara and Solara?

The APT ships have been created with a design-first approach, and this is the first time that we have used the world-renowned architect, Hecker Guthrie, who consulted on the project from the outset. As a result, Solara and Ostara are masterpieces of modernity, inspired by Europe’s waterways while also unpretentiously Australian in their approach to luxury. Hecker Guthrie used cutting-edge technology and the structural optimisation of space and light to create an elegant design and the meticulous attention to detail that might be found in high end concept hotels on land. These luxury river ships will also set a new standard for us in terms of sustainability, saving fuel and optimising energy and waste reduction. The ships will deliver unparalleled standards of dining and service. Guests will have six world-class, all-inclusive dining options to choose from, as well as access to a heated pool and a spacious lounge area for relaxation. Every cabin is expertly designed and appointed to the highest level; at the top end are three unique suites to rival the best hotel rooms in the world. 

What are you most excited about?
It’s been a hugely exciting time of investment and growth for APT & Travelmarvel, but we won’t be sitting back any time soon. As we approach our centenary, trade partners and customers can expect more announcements as we bring new destinations, travel styles and vessels to market. We plan to get even more agents onboard and will be supporting them for sales success with a calendar of strategic tactical campaigns and incentives. Our agent partners can find everything they need to join us on this exciting journey via the APT Agent Club.

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