Group business is booming for luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, accounting for nearly one-third of all bookings. Not bad for an arm of the business that didn’t exist four years ago.
This week Abercrombie & Kent released its 2020/21 Small Group Journeys program, offering new group explorations to destinations such as Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, India and Nepal, South Korea and Taiwan, Argentina, Brazil, Turkey and Malta. The program’s launch has been supported by a roadshow around the country to Canberra, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Noosa, Gold Coast and Brisbane. All up, around 350 front-line luxury travel advisors attended events, hosted by Regional Managing Director for Australia/Asia Pacific, Sujata Raman.
“Not too long ago there was this theory that luxury travellers didn’t want to travel in groups. But I think they do, and in small groups,” Raman told LATTE at the event in Sydney at the Opera House.
Until recently, A&K’s brochures featured signature itineraries that had been designed to give customers a starting point for luxury holiday planning and a taste of what experiences were on offer around the globe. The model has evolved to include a range of Limited Edition tours.
Raman said the Small Group Journey program has grown extensively since its inception, now offering over 100 itineraries, and some with multiple frequencies (up to 48 departures). Such has been the popularity of the program, the new brochure has departures all the way through to Q1 of 2021.
She admits the small group journey market is a crowded space. A&K distinguishes itself by offering a maximum of 18 guests on almost all itineraries (some special departures have a capacity of 24), however tours are guaranteed with just two passengers. The company also chooses not to focus on highlighting the standard of accommodation used through the journeys, with Raman saying “everywhere we stay is special”. Options include the likes of Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and Relais & Châteaux, or boutique hotels Abercrombie & Kent may be “particularly fond of”, she added.
A&K also ensures guests have the time to enjoy the hotel experience by “slowing the pace down” of its tours, offering two-, sometimes three-night stays, and giving guests the opportunity to enjoy breakfast in bed.
A complimentary valet service midway through an itinerary provides A&K guests with up to 10 pieces of laundered items.
New in 2020 is the ‘Design Your Day’ concept for the small group journeys, which are activities and experiences mostly centred around art and culture, such as a walk with a Maasai warrior, or learning about herbal remedies, or culinary experiences like a chef’s table or market tour, or cycling tours, zip-lining or hikes. Guests can pre-book their preferred option and change their plans up until 72 hours prior.
“The whole point is to give guests flexibility, even when they are on a group tour,” she said.
Raman will escort Abercrombie & Kent’s new Ethiopia group itinerary in April 2020.