Phil Cappelli, president of Insight Vacations // © 2017 Insight Vacations
Feature image (above): Kilchurn Castle in Scotland // © 2017 Getty Images
Beginning his career as a reservations supervisor with tour operator Tauck in 1998, Phil Cappelli took the reigns as president of Insight Vacations in 2014. The tour company, which also owns the Luxury Gold by Insight Vacations collection, prides itself on offering clients personalized VIP experiences in a long list of countries including Nepal, Estonia and Chile.
We sat down with Cappelli to learn about what’s new and upcoming with Insight Vacations, Luxury Gold and the luxury travel sector.
How do you suggest selling Insight Vacations and/or Luxury Gold to clients who may be new to booking luxury travel?
I think a lot of people can be unsure about luxury travel due to the price, so it takes a conversation to explain all the things that are included on a luxury journey — which are almost never included with a mass-market product. Travel agents are valuable because they often have the client at their desk and in a position where they can have a real conversation about the value of their next vacation.
What’s new with Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold, and what should we expect to see in the future?
This year sees our collection of journeys expand to new regions. We have added Luxury Gold journeys to Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, while expanding our offerings in South America to include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands.
We’ve also added incredible new, exclusive, behind-the-scenes experiences. On our three most popular Italy journeys, Insight Vacations offers a private, after-hours visit to the Vatican followed by a dinner at the Ethnological Museum with a curator. With Luxury Gold, we’ve added a private, after-hours visit to the Doge’s Palace in Venice and a new Michelin-starred restaurant on Capri, Ristorante Mamma, for an epicurean lunch of Mediterranean specialties paired with a fabulous view.
What are some emerging trends in luxury travel, and how are Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold capitalizing on these?
I think luxury travel is a trend itself. What used to be reserved for the rich and famous has been adopted by baby boomers and millennials alike. We notice that travelers may only have a couple weeks of vacation a year, and they want to do it right, so they choose premium and luxury options to make their travel dreams come true in the best way possible. They see the value in incredible experiences, remarkable hotels and the world-class service they receive when booking a trip of a higher caliber.
I think that Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold have set a big standard in dining. We really are the “foodie” tour operator, because we frequently leave the hotel to dine out in local restaurants and with local people. Whether it’s a Michelin-starred restaurant in Vienna or a rustic trattoria in Tuscany, Italy, our guests have the opportunity to sample all the wonderful flavors of the destinations they visit in a more authentic way.
Is there a destination that you think is underrated when it comes to luxury travel?
India! The hospitality there is incredible, and the experiences are life-changing. Many of the hotels are literally fit for a king, as they are former palaces of the maharajahs (Indian princes). On certain journeys, we partner with charity Me to We to offer a new extension, which allows guests to live, work and immerse themselves completely in the culture of an Indian village, alongside the local people.