Carlson eyes Asia

26 October 2000

The Carlson group of companies has set its sights on Asia for further growth and the first step is moving the headquarters of Carlson Marketing from Sydney to Singapore.

In an exclusive interview with TravelWeekly East, Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chief executive officer of Carlson Companies, said, “For the first time, approximately 50 percent of our income now comes from outside the US and though Europe is more significant than Asia, Asia is becoming increasingly important.”

Nelson, who was in Singapore as part of the International Advisory Council of Tourism put together by the Singapore Tourism Board to discuss the Tourism 21 blueprint, said that apart from the headquarters move to Singapore, Carlson Marketing had also opened offices in Auckland and Melbourne as well as entered into a joint venture in Japan.

Next on the cards is China.

“Relationship marketing is growing very fast in Asia and our global clients are looking for us to service them here,” Nelson said.

She added that Radisson was opening several properties in China and Australia.

Meanwhile, the cruise ship of which she is the godmother, Seven Seas Navigator, is undertaking her maiden voyage in Asia and will make her maiden call to Singapore on November 3.

The company is building another luxury cruise liner which will be ready in a year’s time, said Nelson. “We are building up capacity in the luxury cruise segment and we see Asia as a growth area.”

In June this year, Nelson was appointed as chair of the board of directors of Carlson Companies, a position held by her father and company founder Curtis Nelson until his death in February.

Since assuming the CEO role in March 1998, Nelson has overseen the growth of the Carlson enterprises to a record US$22 billion in systemwide revenues under the company’s brands.

She forged international partnerships – the 1997 merger of Carlson’s business travel interest with those of Accor and the 1999 formation of a partnership with German companies Westdeutsche Landesbank and Preussag, which merged Carlson's United Kingdom travel operations with the German-owned Thomas Cook Group, creating one of the largest leisure travel companies in the world.

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