Travel Market Report recently hopped on a Zoom call for an update with Stefanie Shmudde, global vice president of product development and operations at Abercrombie & Kent. We talked about the luxury travel trends they’re seeing and how they’re turning those trends into new products.
The bucket list is back
Bookings for 2023 look strong, Shmudde told Travel Market Report, driven in part by people’s desire to come back and see the places they’ve always wanted to visit.
“There’s this general trend for our customers to come back to bucket list destinations…they’re ready to see the places they’ve always dreamed of seeing.”
Egypt tops the list for many.
“Our Nile cruises are among our most popular cruises. We are continually adding new departures for various trips across Egypt at different prices and they are selling out regardless.
Egypt is the only bucket list destination in the Middle East proving popular for A&K. Jordan and Israel are also proving popular.
“Whether it’s a religious trip to Israel or the opportunity to see Petra, people are ready to come back to these icons,” Shmudde said.
To help customers see more of these iconic locations, Abercrombie & Kent has expanded its portfolio of tours that combine one or more bucket list destinations.
“We already have a small group trip that includes Peru and the Galapagos, but for 2023 we have introduced a trip that is Peru and the Amazon,” she said.
Likewise, the company has expanded its portfolio of Wings Over the World trips that use private charter planes to connect destinations that are not easily accessible with commercial flights. Most of them are also bucket lists. Like the new East Africa trip that combines Uganda gorilla trekking with the Great Migration in both the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. Or an Alaskan who takes guests to a variety of backcountry lodges for a glimpse of parts of the 49th state most people never see.
Interest in slow travel is on the rise
The concept of slow travel was something that was starting to catch on before the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s been perfectly placed to make a comeback as people look to make up for lost time.
Shmudde told TMR that A&K is seeing an increase in demand not only for longer trips in general, but also to be able to spend more time in a particular destination. It’s a trend, she says, that the company has seen growing since the pandemic began.
In response, the travel company has developed a new series of longer, self-contained trips that only visit one country. One such tour explores different locations in South Africa, spending three days in each of the destinations, including Cape Town, a private game reserve outside Kruger National Park, and the lesser-known Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, where guests can explore the marine wildlife that South Africa has to offer.
Another “slower” trip visits Germany spending time in Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Leipzig and southern Bavaria.
More immersive, more active
Changing demands also give A&K the ability to be more creative with its touring activities so guests “walk away feeling like they’ve experienced the heart of this destination,” Shmudde said.
On the new Peru and Amazon tour, guests take a three-day cruise through the Amazon, take part in a day-long hike through the Sacred Valley and a food-focused bike tour of Lima, as well as the possibility of hiking the last portion of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On the Wings Over the World trip to Alaska, guests join an Iditarod racer for a private dog sledding tour.