Dan Chappelle is the Vice President of Sales with Windstar Cruises. His company has had a stellar year, receiving several high honors as leaders in the travel industry. We caught up with Dan to ask what separates Windstar Cruises from the competition and what other opportunities his company has underway.
Travel Research Online: Dan, you’ve had 20+ years of experience in the travel industry. What ultimately led you to the Vice President of Sales position at Windstar Cruises?
Dan Chappelle: Windstar is an iconic brand and when the opportunity came to join the company as it was, re- inventing itself was just too good of an opportunity to pass up. My job is to build and grow our relationships within the travel agent community. This comes naturally to me having spent most of my career as part of the agency channel. Agents have embraced the new Windstar, & I am fortunate to be a part of the team that has brought Windstar back to be a brand guests aspire to sail.
TRO: This past year, Windstar Cruises received several top honors as leaders in the industry, one in particular being listed as #3 on Condé Nast’s 19th Annual Gold List of “Best Cruise Lines”. What separates Windstar Cruises from other cruise lines in the industry?
DC: Windstar is unique in that we focus on delivering the Windstar brand experience. In fact, we even call them the “Four Promises”. 1-“Private Yacht experience, 2-“It’s all about You,” 3 “Closer to the World”, and 4 – “Magical Moments”. We make these promises to our guests and to our travel agent partners. More importantly, we consistently deliver on them. I think that is what really seperates Windstar from the pack – we know exactly who we are and the customer experience we deliver to our guests.
TRO: In May, your company launched its newest yacht, the Star Pride, and two more yachts, the Star Breeze, and the Star Legend, are set to follow suit in 2015. What kind of experience can travelers expect to receive from your newest fleet of small ships?
DC: As I have mentioned, Windstar is all about the “Private Yacht” experience. The fleet of Power yachts, beginning with Star Pride deliver the same guest experience onboard that Windstar is so well known for with our sailing yachts. With the expanded fleet, they can also expect to visit new and exciting destinations.
TRO: The expansion of your company’s fleet opens the door for new itineraries and opportunities to explore different destinations. Can you tell us about a few voyages, in particular, that will soon be made available to guests traveling with Windstar?
DC: The fleet expansion has given us the opportunity to visit new destinations, such as Asia and Northern Europe, as well as revisit places that we have been closely identified with in the past, such as Tahiti. One thing that we are introducing on all of our 2015 Voyages is the “Windstar Private Event”. This is an event included for all Windstar guests that will immerse them in the local cultures and cuisine.
TRO: Windstar gives guests the opportunity to charter an entire ship, allowing groups to customize their itineraries and shore excursions. Can you give more of an insight into the value of this type of experience?
DC: A full yacht charter is well within the reach of many organizations. Our yachts hold 150-300 guests, so large groups can have their own private yacht experience – something dramatically different than a group experience on a much larger vessel. We can completely tailor the experience to fit their needs.
To travel agents, full ship charters may appear to be out of reach, but with our small size – it is a very real and attainable possibility for many agents – not to mention they can be extremely lucrative.
TRO: Your company is continuing to grow and make waves in the travel industry. What is up next for Windstar?
DC: We will continue to evolve our onboard product as well as develop tools and processes to be easier for travel agents to do business with us. We will continue to focus on bringing our guests to more & more unique destinations that will educate and inspire them. Above all, we will always strive to make Windstar the leader in small ship luxury cruising.
For information on Windstar Cruises, visit their site at http://www.windstarcruises.com .