'I love small ships. I love expedition, and this was the perfect fit,' said Delaney in his first days with Lindblad, after starting last week. He'd been consulting, teaching and active in board work since leaving the Windstar Cruises presidency in early 2020. At Lindblad, he reports to Chief Commercial Officer Noah Brodsky, who joined in May.
Travel advisor focus
Delaney sees 'huge opportunity' to do more with travel advisors.
'People who've sold or sailed on Lindblad know the value. But so many travel advisors don't know the strengths: the National Geographic partnership, the authenticity — this is true exploration — and one of the coolest and most fun youth programs ... Lindblad is very family-friendly.'
Delaney relishes working with travel advisors and has experience with consortia and independents. He hopes to strengthen Lindblad's relationships with partners Virtuoso, Signature Travel Network and Ensemble Travel Group.
Virtuoso, with its vast international membership, will play a role in his bid to grow international sales.
Delaney targets Canada, the UK and Australia, all of which he plans to visit because meeting in person with travel advisors is important, he said, particularly for a product like Lindblad's.
He thinks Australians, great travelers who love adventure, will be interested in Lindblad's epic voyages. In the UK, he already has strong relationships with key agencies like Mundy Cruising, Sovereign Cruise Club and others. And he knows the Canadian market well from his time at Windstar and, before that, Seabourn and Holland America Line.
Seaware and pricing in more currencies
Lindblad will soon be offering pricing in Canadian dollars, pounds sterling and Australian dollars. This will be facilitated by implementing Versonix Seaware, planned to go live early next year.
Revenue management will also roll up under Delaney. It's an area in which he's well-versed, going back to Holland America days. Good automation is an important tool, but 'it doesn't replace going through every sailing, every week, keeping your eyeballs on it.' Experience, he said, is critical to determining the right pricing levels.
Lindblad is currently recruiting a director of revenue management who'll report to him.
Other direct reports are Jacinta McEvoy, VP global sales; Lesa Bain, VP sales North America; and Karen Kuttner-Dimitry, VP affinity & charter sales.
Wide deployment, deep expertise
Small-ship cruising will continue to prosper, in Delaney's view, as consumers seek intimate, more authentic experiences.
'In the expedition space, our footprint is global, with 15 ships' and destinations including the Arctic, Northwest and Northeast passages, Alaska, Baja California, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, the Amazon, Galápagos and Antarctica.
Others may go to these places, but Lindblad has more than 40 years in Alaska, for example, where its US-flag ships can operate a 100% Alaska itinerary and visit small ports others don't. And Lindblad pioneered Antarctica cruising more than a half century ago.
In polar regions, it has brand-new, Polar Class 5 ships and a newer, upgraded ship just joined its Galápagos fleet.
'The quality, the credentials of the expedition teams are super-impressive,' Delaney said. 'The entire experience is built around the destination. If somebody sees a polar bear at 5 a.m., your cabin phone will be ringing. People don't want to miss that experience.'
Further growth opportunities
According to Delaney, besides the core baby boomer market, 'There is a broader audience, with a lot of very affluent travelers in their 40s, 50s, 30s even. We have a perfect product for those seeking authenticity.' That doesn't signal a move away from boomers, just the potential to engage more generations.
And, with sister companies including Natural Habitat Adventures, Off the Beaten Path, DuVine and Classic Journeys, there may be opportunities for greater synergies involving these also highly experiential brands.