Australian Tourism Road Warrior

Michael Nelson Pinnacle Tourism
Michael Nelson interview with Tourism Partners

Michael Nelson
‎Director – ‎
Pinnacle Tourism Marketing

You’ve been in the tourism industry for 20+ years.  How did you start?

The Tourism and Hospitality industry has been the only industry I have worked in. I started when I was 19 with a Management Traineeship with Sheraton Hotels. That kicked off a career in Food and Beverage before a fantastic lady by the name of Sue Thomson pulled me over to Sales and Marketing in about 1999.

Pinnacle Tourism Marketing has grown to represent several clients within Australia and internationally.  Who was your first client and who do you currently represent?

I was very lucky when I went out to start my business. My first two clients were actually my last two employers who backed me and supported me in starting what was then a very small business. Fast forward 12 years, and Pinnacle is now very proud to represent over 20 businesses in Tropical North Queensland, Brisbane, and New Zealand.

What markets does Pinnacle Tourism Marketing specialise in and why those markets?

Despite the trends and growth out of the Eastern Markets, Pinnacle focuses primarily on the Western and Domestic Markets. These markets suit our clients the best because of their propensity to disperse and see some of the more regional areas through self drive itineraries.

Your just returned from an extensive international trip.  What markets did you visit and what lies ahead in the next 12-24 months?

So my last trip was a big trip encompassing South America, the UK, France and Belgium. South America is a new market for us and we are keen to explore the opportunities here, because we believe that this market suits the offering from our clients. The UK and Europe market is our bread and butter. Our clients have a very significant stakehold out of this market and that is why we are in market here twice a year every year. The next 12-24 months will see Pinnacle continue to evolve to offer our clients a complete distribution strategy across all channels. This includes digital as well as our ongoing presence in the UK, Europe and American markets as well as our very consistent presence in the domestic market.

Things today are considered pretty good for inbound tourism, given your time in the industry how can business be best equipped for the next slump?

First and foremost, let’s hope that this wave continues for sometime yet. The industry has had more than its fair share of hits over the years and it is great to see some markets doing well. I think for businesses to weather the storm for any downturn, is to be aware of every available distribution channel and to ensure that their business is equipped to work with all channels.

What will the next 5-10 years be like for traditional distribution?

The crystal ball question. We have seen such rapid evolution of channels over the last decade that this is hard to predict. Traditional distribution will still be here. I foresee the need for very specialist travel and the ability to tailor the experience for each and every individual coming to Australia. That experience will start from the initial quote right through to the delivery of the actual experience. We make a big brand promise for Australia when we say “There is nothing like Australia”, I foresee people want that statement delivered on from a very individual and personal basis.

When you look back at business wins, what has been your greatest achievement?

Owning a representation business, the wins are when you make a difference to one of your clients and you have improved their overall position. One of our great wins has been with a small wilderness retreat on the Atherton Tablelands. They were one of our first clients and were not seeing much trade business at all. This had a big impact on their overall occupancy and profitability. This property now enjoys a very healthy year round occupancy, see’s business from a variety of distribution channels and markets and is now one of the most exposed products in North Queensland from a Western Market point of view. Everytime we see one of our clients put into a program is a win because the space continues to be competitive and if there is a particular program that we know will deliver and they have picked up one of our clients then we tend to have a bit of a “high five” moment within the office.

You’ve served in a voluntary capacity on a number tourism boards.   What have been the stand outs?

My time on the ATEC Board was particularly rewarding. That organisation has recognised what its members were seeking and more importantly delivered on that. It is now in a really strong position and all kudos to the ATEC Team

What’s the next big thing for Pinnacle?

We are looking to evolve Pinnacle into a complete distribution solution for our clients. Watch this space, we will be launching a new initiative before the end of the year.


On a lighter note ….


With a young family, how do you stay in touch when away from home for months of each year?

Technology has helped out big time here. Gone are the days of postcards and phonecards, and that has been replaced with Instagram, Facetime and Facebook. Sharing photos of what I am doing and where I am is always great and facetiming the family while out and about is also good so they can see where I am. Hopefully one of the great joys I will have is showing the places that I have travelled to first hand and I hope to do that very soon.

When you arrive home from an international trip what do you like doing?

I become a home body. I love where we live and within about 20 mins of me arriving home the suitcases are unpacked and put away. I don’t want to see them again until the next trip.

You’ve travelled the world, what is your favourite place in Australia and overseas? (apart from your home town of Cairns)

London is my favourite city in the world. I have been there so many times and it is very familiar. With that being said, it is great to find new places and new parts of that city. It is is one of the great walking cities of the world and it never fails to deliver on a new place or a new part of the city.

Being a regular traveller to London you no doubt get out and about to some great eating places.  What is your gem that most visitors to London don’t know about?

Two places, The Borough Markets and Gordons Wine Bar, the oldest wine bar in London. The Borough Markets are just great to grab a coffee or if later in the day a glass of wine and watch the world go by. Gordons, is just one of the great institutions of London and needs to be seen. The pubs down on the river at Hammersmith are also deserving of a visit.

When hitting the kitchen what is your hero dish(s)?

Chicken and Porcini Mushroom Risotto. It is a family favourite and is often requested. It is a compulsory dish when watching the Bledisloe matches with some great friends of ours.

What global brands do you have an affinity with?

I am an Apple tragic. We have evolved into a totally Apple office and it comes down to the fact that they make you look really good through their technology. From presentations to documents, I think they are a cut above Microsoft.

What is your personal number one online retailer for purchases?

I have a few. Vinomofo for a bottle of wine. Travel Universe is great for bags/luggage with some great deals on some really good brands.

Favourite web site(s) when on the road?

I tend to tend into all of the news websites from back home when I am on the road. Always great to keep in touch with what is going on. I also tend to be on social media a bit more when I am away, as it is great to keep in touch with everyone.

How do you manage jet lag?

I haven’t found the magic solution for this one yet. It flogs me every single trip I do.

What is the one thing you always pack when travelling (apart from the electronic devices)?

I’ll rephrase that question to what I take with me on every sales trip and that is my favourite bag. It has taken many years to find it, but it has every pocket, every sleeve that I need and everything has its slot, from my favourite pen, to business cards, to writing note book, to cables, to computers, to brochures and other collateral. If you want to narrow down to one thing, I never travel without my noise cancelling headphones.

If you have a hobby what is it and why?

My hobby is playing guitar. Sitting on the back deck of our house overlooking Cairns, playing the guitar my family gave me for my 40th birthday is a bit of a happy place.

If you could drive anything, what would you choose?

I will change that question to fly anything. As a plane tragic, I just love the fact that John Travolta has a whole heap of planes parked out the front of his house, so I would like to fly anything that is parked out the front of John Travolta’s house.

Michael Nelson on LinkedIn
Pinnacle Tourism Marketing


Adventure North Australia and the Bama Way Aboriginal Journeys

Billy Tea Bush Safaris, Cairns

Cairns Beach Resort, Holloways Beach

Coconut Grove, Port Douglas

Exemplar Coaches and Limousines, Port Douglas

Grand Pacific Tours, New Zealand

Mandalay Luxury Beachfront Apartments, Port Douglas

Peninsula Boutique Hotel, Port Douglas

Regal Port Douglas

Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat, Lake Eacham

Shantara Resort, Port Douglas

Freestyle Resort, Port Douglas

Paradise on the Beach, Palm Cove

Haggerstone Island, Great Barrier Reef

Amaroo at Trinity Beach

Heli Tours North Queensland

Grange Group Victoria, Daylesford Hepburn Springs, Macedon Region

Cairns Discovery Tours Cairns

Spirit of Cairns

Divers Den – Aqua Quest, Port Douglas

Wait A While Rainforest Tours

Bellevue at Trinity, Trinity Beach

Brisbane by Bicycle, Brisbane