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Checking in with Michael Lundquist

Fast Facts About Michael Lundquist

Michael Lundquist is the Director of Sales for the Eastern Region for Mayflower Cruises and Tours in Lisle, Illinois.

Mayflower Cruises and Tours started in 1979, offering group excursions to destinations around the world by rail, cruise or guided coach tours. Providing life-enriching travel to Europe, Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, Australia and New Zealand.  

Born: Iowa City, Iowa

Education: Bachelor’s in communications from the University of Memphis 

Employment:  Lundquist has been in the travel industry for 19 years. He has worked for tour and cruise operators with a global reach, has owned his own travel agency, and for the past four years, has worked as one of three nationwide directors of sales for Mayflower Cruises and Tours.  

Family: Lundquist has two kids, Georgianna and Reily, plus a husky named Hugo. While Mayflower is headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, Lundquist works from his home office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

Hobbies: Beyond travel, Lundquist likes to stay active with snowboarding, soccer and basketball. He also enjoys writing poetry and other genres of creative writing.

Early Exposure

At the age when many people are worried about whom to take to prom, Michael Lundquist was getting his first exposure to international living. As a student at Darrow School, a boarding school in upstate New York, he shared classes and living space with students from around the globe: Japan, Korea, South America, Europe and beyond. Lundquist befriended a Japanese student who invited him home to visit his family in Kyoto for two weeks over summer break.

“That experience made me interested in travel — it was pretty mind-blowing,” he said. “There weren’t too many 17-year-old kids walking along the streets of Kyoto back in 1996, and we even had a personal translator with us.”

During those formative years, Lundquist was on the soccer team and was active in the school’s theater programming. He was the singer and bassist for bands his friends would put together and ultimately landed at the University of Memphis for a degree in communications and film. Another of Lundquist’s hobbies was snowboarding, which he had to abandon, at least temporarily, while living through Tennessee’s mild winters. 

“I loved working in film, and I thought I had a lot of potential there, but nobody was hiring the next big director,” said Lundquist. “I decided that as soon as I graduated, I was going to move to the biggest city that’s close to some kind of mountain so I could go snowboarding.” 

Mountain Milestones

Lundquist ended up settling on a move to Denver, where his brother was attending school. From there, he waited tables and thought about what his first real adult career move would be. He did temp jobs to scrape by and was placed with a local travel agency.

“I’m personable and I like talking to people,” said Lundquist. “I had computer skills and other skills that the agency needed. I ended up in the call center of Group Voyagers Incorporated, a Globus brand that works in group travel. I came in to fill a role as a temp but moved into working in group sales.”

After working with groups, he became a group supervisor and loved working with the agents, especially one he got to know well who was located in West Virginia. The agent invited him to France to help with a student group tour, which really solidified he would make a career in the travel industry. He was making his mark in the company, too, building a reputation for being easy to work with while having the trait of being detail oriented — a key skill when planning group travel.

“I started thinking about how much I loved working in travel, so I moved over to the sales and marketing side of things, and I was successful at that,” said Lundquist. “I ended up moving to South Carolina and became a business development manager for Globus and covered the Southeast, focusing specifically on groups — bank travel — and began working a lot of conferences.”

The Road Home

Lundquist was eventually promoted to national sales manager, where he managed more than a dozen representatives all over the country and was able to move back to his hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“I always said I would never, ever come back — it was just kind of a dead place,” said Lundquist. “But then they started revitalizing the downtown, which I always thought had great potential, but growing up there was just nothing going on. But they started to revamp everything, so I decided I should move my family there.”

It was shortly after his move to Winston-Salem that Lundquist decided he wanted to try running his own travel agency and tour company. With a group focus, his independent agency offered unique tours with historic elements.

“I tried to focus on ancient history, which was something I was interested in, inspired by the trip to Peru where I saw pre-Columbian art and sites,” said Lundquist. “On every trip, I would include things like Stonehenge but also some off-the-wall sites, too.”

Lundquist’s days as a stand-alone operator lasted about two years, but ultimately, it was too difficult to be a one-man show in such a competitive environment. Before he shuttered his doors, though, he already had an offer from Mayflower on the table.

The Mayflower Compact

“It worked out as having perfect timing — that was in 2018, and Mayflower had just gotten bought out and was looking to expand, and they knew I had led a sales team before,” said Lundquist. “They’re 100 percent group-sales focused, and I loved the trips they were selling and the product, so I was really excited to take the position.”

Now, Lundquist sells luxury river and ocean cruises that go beyond whatever an all-inclusive could ever offer, including butler service and top-shelf drinks. Groups travel by yacht to destinations like Antarctica on a 100-passenger vessel, the likes of which are typically privately owned. 

The company also organizes national park tours, Christmas market tours and holiday specialty tours, among other options.

“This is like my job when I ran my own company but better,” said Lundquist. “I tried with my own business, but there were costs that were really adding up. There were so many things that were a struggle for me, and it’s great to have a marketing team again with people I can go to when I need things. I’ve been with them ever since.”

To date, Lundquist has visited 23 countries and 49 states and doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon. 

“I’ve been able to have a great career where I learn about different cultures and see the different ways people live, and it’s just been amazing.”

Destination Faves

1. Peru “We had a meeting in Peru that really opened my eyes; I hadn’t been exposed to South America at all. I didn’t know what the food was going to be like, and they have 400 varieties of potatoes. They have all of this ancient architecture — Machu Picchu was great, and we saw the Sacsayhuaman, which is just amazing.”

2. Israel — “I had the chance to go to Israel with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and that trip blew me away. I’ve always been into religious texts and that was amazing — our itinerary really brought parts of the Bible to life.”

3. Split, Croatia — “My great-grandfather came from Croatia, so I had always wanted to see Split. Even though it’s a small area, it’s just an amazing country, and on that trip we went to Croatia, Slovenia, and ended in Vienna. Split has the ‘Game of Thrones’ aspect, and historically speaking, Emperor Diocletian moved the Roman Empire’s headquarters there — there’s not a more quaint, beautiful or inspiring place I’ve ever been.”