Keith Baron, president
What are your newest destinations or products in the marketplace?
Our “Wings Over the World” programs appeal to those who consider time the ultimate luxury. These regional journeys combine the best of our luxury small-group travel with privately chartered flights. We have journeys to China, India, the Mediterranean and East Africa. Perhaps the best example of what makes “Wings” so appealing is Spain & Morocco; there is no direct commercial air service between the cities on the itinerary.
In response to demand, for 2019, we will introduce new “Wings” itineraries in Southern Africa; Egypt, Jordan & Israel; and Northern Europe.
What is your most exotic, unusual new offering?
We recently launched “Cultural Treasures: Around the World by Private Jet,” featuring exclusive experiences in Japan, Mongolia, Nepal and Bhutan, India, Abu Dhabi, Jordan, and Sicily. It is the luxury of experiences on the ground that sets this journey apart.
We just announced a small ship expedition cruise that explores virtually the entire coastline of Italy: “Hidden Treasures from Florence to Venice.” After two days in Florence, we board the brand-new Le Bougainville for a look at Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, Puglia’s Gargano National Park, UNESCO-protected Urbino, and little-known Bastia on French Corsica.
What’s your “tried-and-true” mainstay offering that clients continue to love? Why do they love it?
We are seeing tremendous growth in Africa, both Tailor Made and Small Group Journeys. “Great Migration Safari in Style” is our flagship East African safari, so in demand that we introduced a Special Edition this year. It’s important for travel advisors to encourage guests to book early for 2019, especially for peak season.
A&K opened an office in Madrid this year to handle the dramatic increase in guests traveling to Spain and Portugal — our fifth office in Europe.
Are you modifying your offerings to accommodate the desire many consumers have to “live like a local” and to have “authentic” experiences?
All of A&K’s Luxury Small Group Journeys include exclusive, locally inspired moments, such as the opportunity to “Ride Like a Local” and explore a neighborhood by rickshaw or get a taste of local cuisine with a “Chef’s Table” culinary demonstration.
Our Connections Boutique Group Journeys are specifically designed around immersive experiences that deliver a vibrant sense of place. After Geoffrey Kent led an “Inspiring Expedition to Lapland” in March, we introduced our first winter program in Europe — “Northern Lights of Lapland.” Highlights include an overnight in an ice hotel plus sleeping under glass to watch for the Northern Lights. Options include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, dog sledding, even a cruise on an icebreaker where guests can try a survival suit.
Have you seen the age of your customers change at all in the past year or so?
With the continuing strength of the U.S. economy, the number of affluent consumers is growing. The majority are professionals and entrepreneurs, 50 to 70 years old, with an intense curiosity about the world. They are experience seekers; educated, active, accomplished. Travel is an essential part of their luxury lifestyle. Retired? Not in the classic sense as they have ongoing business and professional commitments, but are not tied down to a schedule. They have the means and the time to visit the places that interest them.
What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2018/19?
We are focused on educating a new generation of front-line agents about how to sell luxury and what sets A&K apart from other luxury adventure travel companies.
What is your key strategy these days and why?
Over the past 10 years, the definition of luxury has changed. It is much more about the luxury of experience, rather than thread count. Luxury is the privilege of discovery, adventure, relaxation and insight, enjoyed in a context that perfectly suits the experience. Seamless service, safety and security are a given. We guarantee all departures with a minimum of just two guests. But it is the unexpected touches, what we call “& moments,” that inspire our guests and elevate an adventure into a true luxury experience.