Victoria Clipper CEO takes frowns, makes fans

Jun 18, 2010, 3:01 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Things don’t always go as planned. We all know that’s life. It’s what happens after the unplanned event that usually matters the most.

Clipper 001Last weekend my family hopped on a Victoria Clipper vessel for a whale watching cruise out of Seattle to Friday Harbor. Beautiful blue water, mostly sunny sky and all was well as we approached Deception Pass. I’ve been on the bridge before, but seeing the span from the water was awesome.

We sailed through the pass, headed around the north end of Lopez Island (I was secretly hoping to find Colton Harris-Moore) and then, the Clipper III blew an engine. No panic, but a lot of smoke. The vessel has two engines, so the crew shut the damaged one down and we limped toward Friday Harbor on reduced power.

They let us know we would not be watching whales, just watching time pass in Friday Harbor and waiting for a Washington State Ferry to take us to Anacortes. From there, a bus ride back to Seattle. Not ideal, but okay.

Passengers were not happy when we found out the compensation for our trip would be “50% off your next Victoria Clipper reservation.” You’re really going to make me pay more to try this again? I did what I do, and sent a message on Twitter.


It was actually a Gray Line bus and the “Clipper people” were very professional about the whole thing. Still, the compensation seemed inadequate. Next, my iPhone battery died an that’s when things really started to…improve. Seriously.

We made it to Friday Harbor, which is a cool little place. My husband and son went off to explore. My daughter and I looked for unusual jewelry and then found a park bench facing the water. She sketched her view of the harbor. I did nothing. Nothing. No thoughts about work, or what I should be accomplishing. It was glorious.

Things happen for a reason don’t they?


For the Victoria Clipper management team, the reason might have been so they know how to handle these kinds of rare problems in the future.

Earlier this week, I got call from Victoria Clipper CEO and President Darrell Bryan. Yeah, I was surprised too! We talked about their response and what they might have done differently. They are giving everyone on that Clipper III full refunds if they live out of the area, and those who live here and want to go again can do so for free. That’s on top of the 50% off a future sailing.

More companies are learning about customer problems through social media. One upset person can impact a corporation. A current example of consumer-social media-power is the mom who took on Kraft after finding mold in a Capri Sun drink. Ewwww.

Smart managers – like Darrell Bryan – respond quickly, sincerely and personally.

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Victoria Clipper CEO takes frowns, makes fans