Abercrombie & Kent USA: Keith Baron, President

Abercrombie & Kent is seeing longer lead times for bookings, and it’s introducing new wellness-inspired journeys in Southeast Asia, India, Kenya and Peru, says President Keith Baron. More Egypt itineraries are also on the horizon. 

What are some of the newest trends you are seeing with your customers?
We’re seeing longer booking lead times and an increased interest in personalization. A&K guests are booking Luxury Small Group Journeys a month earlier this year versus last year, while destinations like Egypt and East Africa require even longer lead times. Interest in luxury expedition cruising continues to grow, within the Polar regions and beyond, including the Kimberley coast and cruises to Japan, Italy, Greece and the Baltics

How have you modified your offerings to meet these trends?
In April, we released our 2020 Preview brochure, featuring our most popular itineraries. We added Design Your Day options to every Luxury Small Group Journey, from 2020, with a choice of at least three expertly curated excursions, with one designed for more active guests. Our 2020/2021 Luxury Expedition Cruise season features 12 adventures. The three new itineraries for 2020 include one that visits seven countries around the Baltic Sea, in addition to an Iceland & Greenland cruise and a 48-day Grand Arctic Voyage that combines three of A&K’s Arctic cruises into one, spanning five different regions.

What new destinations have you introduced this year?
We are seeing more Tailor Made requests for Indonesia (Komodo Island), Georgia and Armenia (featured on a Limited Edition group program) and Lapland, Finland. Ireland attracted strong interest among our Tailor Made travelers. We have designed an exclusive group experience, featuring private access to see the Book of Kells, and accommodations at top hotels. We had such success with a Luxury Expedition Cruise around Greece that we incorporated some of the best experiences featured on the shore excursions into a new Connections Boutique Group Journey.

Within the existing destinations that you offer, what new products are available?
We have introduced wellness-inspired Luxury Small Group Journeys to Southeast Asia, India, Kenya and Peru. The slow pace of these culturally immersive, experiential journeys allows guests to appreciate each destination. On the luxury expedition cruise side, we added a cruise to Australia’s Kimberley Region and a cultural cruise along nearly the entire navigable coast of Italy. We also expanded our Wings Over the World portfolio. Wings Over Northern Europe traverses the region’s top destinations, Wings Over Southern Africa is a safari from Victoria Falls to the Okavango Delta and the dunes of Namibia, while Wings Over Israel, Jordan & Egypt explores the region held sacred by three faiths. We’ve had to add new departures to the Middle East journey, as the original departures sold out.

What are some of the destinations you’d like to go in to?
A&K recently opened an office in Rwanda and launched a limited-edition journey there in 2020 for guests to see the critically endangered mountain gorillas at Parc National des Volcans; the chimpanzees and canopy walkway of Nyungwe Forest and tranquil Lake Kivu. We’ve seen increased interest [in Turkey], which features in our new Marco Polo Journey for 2020. Luxury hotels like Six Senses and Aman open there this year. Geoffrey Kent has crafted a Private Jet itinerary for 2020 to visit some of the lesser-known, but fascinating destinations, including Eritrea, Benin, and Lencois Maranhenses National Park in Brazil.

Any unique opportunities in light of domestic or global happenings?
For 2020, we’re expanding our Egypt offering by increasing departures of our Petra to the Pyramids, which includes a four-night Nile cruise aboard the 12-passenger Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau dahabeah. As Tokyo hosts the 2020 Olympics, A&K’s Marco Polo Journey will explore South Korea and Japan, with departures in the spring and fall. Travelers will visit the temples of historic Gyeongju in South Korea and the DMZ.

What is your focus on the U.S. travel agent for 2019/20?
We are focusing on educating new front-line advisors about how to sell luxury and what sets A&K apart from other luxury and adventure travel companies. We hosted Elevate the Adventure events to connect travel advisors with A&K Destination Experts from nine regions around the world. Our biannual 100 Club event, an invitation-only gathering of the company’s top travel advisor partners, will be held March 30-April 1, 2020 in Chicago.

Abercrombie & Kent USA: Keith Baron, President

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