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Having the time of your life in beautiful, exotic locales doesn’t seem like a very hard thing to sell, does it? Well, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds, and few know that better than John Chernesky, the Senior Vice President of Sales & Trade Marketing at Princess Cruises & Cunard Line. On this episode of Marketing Trends, John takes us through why it’s so important to sell stories and appeal to people’s emotions when marketing. Plus he discusses some of the biggest wins and surprising trends he’s seen in his years in the cruise industry.

3 Takeaways:

Telling stories is the best way to convince people to travel with you

– You have to be able to explain a product or experience in order to sell it, so it’s worth the investment to allow key influencers or partners to experience what you want them to sell

– Personalization in marketing is still a work in progress

Key Quotes:

“I would say marketing is a very unique combination of art and science.”

“We clearly are trying to stand out amongst the land-based focus resorts as well as other cruises. And we do that really by trying to tell stories and by trying to let people know that they can literally see the world with Princess and all the places that we go. Our marketing message is one of connection and of going together and it’s really trying to tap into an emotive element that, you know, you only have so much time on this earth. Not that we use those words, but it’s that’s kind of the feeling that you want to see these great places and you want to do it with people that are special to you — family and friends. And that’s how we try and separate ourselves and do it in a way that is really focused on what you’re going to experience. You want to make sure you’re not having that huge gap between your promise and your actual delivery. And so we do it in a very honest, authentic way. ”

“At its core, it’s about simplicity. From a marketing angle, you really want to hit on the multitude of things you’re going to see and experience and try, and it’s hard when you’re talking about, let’s say a direct mail piece or an email — you’re not going to get people’s attention to sit there and watch a five-minute video that explains the whole thing. You really have to hit them within that nanosecond to impress them that while this is a place I want to go and the way I want to do it is through Princess. That’s our challenge.”

“There’s nothing like going on an experience where you’re listened to and people ask you for your opinion, and then you can see that change happen a few months later. Like, ‘Wow, they actually listened to me.’ So that really emboldens you to them and it kind of solidifies your partnership even better.” 

“The personalization aspect of our marketing is still in its early days, but it’s definitely something we’re focused on and has really become kind of an internal buzzword on how do we personalize every communication that we send out? Whether it’s somebody who’s never cruised with us or somebody who’s taking their 50th cruise with us, we want them to feel like a unique individual. The more you can speak to somebody one on one, the better off you’re going to be.”


John Chernesky is the Senior Vice President of Sales & Trade Marketing at Princess Cruises & Cunard Line. “John leads the national accounts and field sales team of sales directors and business development managers who are responsible for managing the relationship with North America Travel Advisors who sell Princess Cruises and Cunard Line. In this role, he provides executive leadership for trade relations and oversees the development of sales programs to meet the company’s annual revenue goals. He provides strategic sales and marketing guidance to retailers to help increase their cruise sales with Princess and Cunard.”

He has been with Princess Cruises for more than 20 years and has previously served as Vice President, Onboard Revenue and Business Development for the Holland America Group. In that role, he was responsible for product development, strategic analysis and creating growth opportunities for spa, fine arts, casino photography, media production, shipboard communications technology and branded credit cards.  

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