For over 50 years, Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) has been a pioneer in the development of luxury travel throughout the world, beginning with the concept of the first luxury safari product in the industry. Today, however, they’re going one step further, with the development of the first value-priced program in the company’s history: Connections by Abercrombie & Kent. It’s a portfolio of 17 worldwide destinations promising the same quality of product A&K has been famous for at pricing 30 percent lower than its traditional product.
The response, according to Keith Baron, senior v.p., strategic growth & development for Abercrombie & Kent, who was instrumental in building the Connections itineraries, has been phenomenal. “We’ve already had some record-setting days, brochure requests and hits on our website.”
The seed of the Connections program idea, Baron says, came when “the company came up with a couple of very well-priced products that were well under the normal market rate price in Egypt and Morocco, and the response and demand for it was really high. It was really something of a test. So based on that feedback and response, we said, ‘Hey, there’s really something here that’s a real opportunity.’”
Indeed, he adds, the company realized that because of the lower value pricing, the sales during the recovery period were very good. At the same time, they then decided to offer that pricing to a broader audience, but not dilute the overall A&K product. So the Connections programs are just a little lower tier but still relatively small with only 24-28 participants.
The feedback from agents has been positive, as it’s given them a broader base of clients to sell to because of the lower value pricing. “Our agents have other customers who aren’t quite as excited about the price point that A&K had been offering. But now, A&K is offering them this lower-priced product that’s still a high-quality A&K product,” says Baron.
And indeed, the lower pricing has not affected the quality of the traditional offerings A&K brings to all of its clients. Connections journeys, in fact, are designed and backed by the on-the-ground experts at A&K’s 50 offices around the world. These itineraries were created with experience and value in mind, Baron says, providing the traveler with a deeper understanding of a destination’s culture, history and natural beauty, without the extra amenities that make up a traditional A&K luxury journey.
The itineraries offer local “connections” such as attending a music lecture with a former violinist for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, who provides a unique first-hand perspective on Vienna’s incomparable musical heritage. In China, guests are welcomed into the home of a family living in one of Beijing’s last surviving hutongs where they are taught how to make traditional dumplings by the family’s matriarch. A local fisherman in Croatia shows guests how to harvest oysters and describes why they are considered to be among the best shellfish in the world.
Accommodations, too, reflect A&K’s adherence to providing quality luxury properties, ranging from spacious resorts to luxurious boutique lodgings and hotels around the world. According to Abercrombie & Kent USA president Phil Otterson, “We’ve chosen hotels that represent the unique character of a place, a blend of boutique hotels and familiar names including Fairmont, Hilton, Hyatt Regency, InterContinental, Le Meridien, Marriott, and Sofitel.”
Connections by Abercrombie & Kent offers destinations from Italy, France, Eastern Europe, and Croatia, to China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, Morocco, Egypt, Peru, Canada and the western United States.
Sample pricing and programs include Croatia: Jewel of the Coast where clients get a private tour of Split’s Mestrovi Gallery and enjoy a private talk in Dubrovnik with a local resident who relates her experiences during the Balkan War. Clients will also have a chance to meet traders and craftsmen of Dubrovnik (nine days from $3,675).
There’s also India: Spiritual Splendors with a sunrise and sunset visit to the Taj Mahal, an elephant safari on a private Rajput farm and an evening Aarti ceremony on the sacred river Ganges, plus a sunrise boat ride on the river (11 days from $3,990). In South America, clients can opt for Peru: Land of the Incas where they’ll enjoy two opportunities to explore Machu Picchu, including a sunrise visit, meeting a local family at their home in the Sacred Valley and an internationally renowned weaver who introduces them to this traditional craft (nine days from $4,185).
Connections by Abercrombie & Kent: (800) 554-7094; ak-connections.com