Following 16 successful years in the luxury escorted travel industry, Phil Cappelli was named President of Insight Vacations, USA in 2014. Cappelli began his career in the travel industry with Tauck as a Reservations Supervisor in 1998 and was promoted with rapid succession, eventually becoming the Director of North American Sales. Travel Agent Magazine featured Cappelli as a “Rising Star” and selected him for their coveted “30 Under 30” program based on his influential work following the 9/11 tragedy and contagious enthusiasm for effective communication and teamwork.
In August 2011, Cappelli ended his tenure at Tauck and joined Insight Vacations as Vice President of Sales and Business Development. Building upon his strong background of managing national accounts, Cappelli excelled at developing new business and sales opportunities while managing budgets and establishing a formidable presence in the marketplace.
Cappelli’s proven sales, marketing and management experience – coupled with his strong relationship-building and presentation skills – made him the natural successor as President in February 2014. Under Cappelli’s leadership, Insight Vacations has enjoyed two of its most lucrative years to date and experienced a significant increase in guests from previous years.
Cappelli resides in Newtown, CT with his wife Sarah and three children.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What was your motivation for pursuing a career in the travel industry?
Phil Cappelli (PC): My background was originally in consulting, but I’ve always been extremely passionate about traveling and learning about other destinations and cultures. When I began working in the travel industry, I was particularly inspired by the challenge of building a successful brand, and the partnership and relationship building that is necessary to do so. More than anything, I love that we provide people with an enlightening and unforgettable experience that ultimately broadens their horizons and changes their perspective of the world.
TRO: Tell us about your day-to-day role at Insight Vacations.
PC: I consider myself incredibly lucky and thankful to be the President of Insight USA. I go to sleep at night exhausted, however very easily, knowing we have a tremendous product in the market and outstanding people supporting all aspects of our operation.
I spend a fair amount of time on the road, averaging 150 days the past two years. I feel strongly about visiting our critical partners, meeting with travel agents and truly understanding what’s going on in the market. I will also spend at least 10—14 days a year in our beautiful Anaheim office, where our outstanding Reservations team is located. Insight Vacations is supported exceptionally well by The Travel Corporation’s office in Anaheim and I always look forward to meeting with Reservations, Accounting, Documents and other departments.
We have a committed and passionate team at Insight USA, whether it’s our hard-working Sales Team in the field or our solid team of Marketing, Guest Relations, Air and Group Sales in our office in Rye, New York. When I’m not traveling, I’ve got about a 45 minute commute from my home in Connecticut to our offices in Rye, New York. As I travel so much, I really enjoy getting to spend time working in the Rye office with our small but highly effective and efficient team.
I have many responsibilities in my role, but my favorite aspect of the position is talking to guests when they’ve returned from one of our trips. The joy and excitement in those conversations fuels my engine. Relationships are extremely important to me and I truly enjoy working with our committed travel agency partners. We are a travel agency focused organization, and the community has rewarded us. I continue to be impressed with how strong the agency community is and how it continues to grow!
My days are long, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else!
TRO: Why has Insight focused on providing escorted tours as opposed to hosted tours?
PC: While we have noticed many of our competitors offering hosted programs or FITs, we’ve made a conscious decision to focus on escorted tours because we firmly believe that they bring people together in a way that independent travel cannot. Our journeys have the power to bridge cultural gaps and change our guests’ perspectives because sincere camaraderie starts to build from the first evening. Participating in our immersive Signature and VIP experiences with other like-minded travelers from around the world heightens the cultural value of each tour while providing plenty of opportunities to make lifelong friends along the way.
TRO: What advantages do escorted tours provide travel agents themselves?
PC: I think perhaps the biggest advantage for agents is the unparalleled ease of booking their client’s vacations. With one phone call to Insight’s Reservations team, they can book a product that includes incredible experiences, accommodations, dining, and even flights and airport transfers. Agents know that when they book with us, their clients are in good hands, as we provide the stability of a reputable partner with a strong history and 38 years of experience. We are a partner-focused company and we take very good care of our agents, whether they’re top-sellers or new to booking Insight.
TRO: Insight has recently released their Luxury Gold line of vacations for the ultimate in luxurious travel. Can you tell us about the development of this new line?
PC: Our new Luxury Gold collection is ready to debut after four years of tirelessly developing and fine-tuning our luxury offering. We built upon 38 years of Insight’s legendary quality and leveraged The Travel Corporation’s 100-year heritage of luxury, including inspiration from and collaboration with our esteemed five-star sister brands, Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises. We spent months evaluating hundreds of five-star properties and decided on a select few based on their service, accommodations, and location. In Europe, we’ve also included at least one Michelin-starred restaurant on every trip, in addition to phenomenal local favorites and a variety of hands-on culinary experiences. And of course, our Exclusive VIP Experiences continue to set us apart from the rest. Luxury Gold is truly in a class of its own.
TRO: What can a travel agent expect when booking their client on an Insight or Luxury Gold vacation?
PC: When agents book their clients on one of our journeys, they can expect a seamless experience from start to finish. As I said earlier, we are a one-stop shop for agents and our high level of service differentiates us from the competition. Insight provides a hassle-free experience for our guests, so that they are taken care of from the time they land to the time we bid them farewell. We boast a 98% satisfaction rate among guests, which develops trust not only in our brand but with our travel agent partners as well.
TRO: What is your favorite travel destination to date?
PC: I truly enjoyed Croatia. I had the chance to travel there with Insight twice in the past few years and it completely surpassed my expectations. One of my favorite memories was a beautiful restaurant, directly on the Adriatic, where we had a lunch stop on our way from Split to Dubrovnik. We had an outstanding experience with a local family at their vineyard. I cannot say enough good things about Croatia.
Another honorable mention is Switzerland. I have a favorite tradition where I take each of my children on a special trip with me for their tenth birthdays, and last year it was my youngest son’s turn. He chose Switzerland as he wanted to find out all about watches and how they are made, eat chocolate and cheese, and see the beautiful mountains. It is always an incredibly meaningful experience to travel with your family, and we had an amazing time. Switzerland is a phenomenal travel destination – travelers are rewarded with extremely friendly locals, immaculate cities and some of the world’s most striking panoramic landscapes.
TRO: What is on the horizon for Insight Vacations?
PC: 2016 has been an exciting year for Insight, as we have launched our new Luxury Gold Collection across Europe, the Americas, and India. I look forward to strengthening our partnership with our sister brands, Red Carnation Hotels and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, to further develop and strengthen our luxury offerings.
In terms of destinations, India has so much to offer, so we are constantly brainstorming, developing, and fine-tuning our product there. Our expansion to Peru this year has been very successful and we are looking at other opportunities to expand our selection of journeys in South America.
For more information on Phil Cappelli and Insight Vacations, visit them online at www.insightvacations.com.