Travel Market Report recently hopped on a Zoom call for an update with Stefanie Schmudde, vice president of product development & operations at Abercrombie & Kent. We talked about the luxury travel trends they’re seeing and how they turn these trends into new products.
The Bucket List Is Back
Bookings for 2023 are looking solid, Schmudde told Travel Market Report, driven in part by people’s desire to get back out there and see the places they’ve always wanted to.
“There’s this overarching trend for our guests to get back to the bucket list destinations… they’re ready to see the places they’ve always dreamt of seeing.”
Leading that bucket list for many is Egypt.
“Our cruises on the Nile are some of our most popular cruises. We continuously add new departures for various journeys across Egypt at various price points and they sell out regardless.”
Egypt is not the only bucket list destination in the Middle East that’s proving popular for A&K. Jordon and Israel are also proving to be popular.
“Whether it’s a faith-based journey to Israel or the opportunity to see Petra, people are ready to get back to those icons,” Schmudde said.
To help guests see more of those iconic places, Abercrombie & Kent has expanded its portfolio of tours that combine one or more bucket list destinations.
“We already have a small group journey that has Peru and the Galapagos but for 2023, we’ve introduced a journey that’s Peru and the Amazon,” she said.
Similarly, the company has expanded its Wings Over the World portfolio of journeys that use private chartered aircraft to connect destinations that aren’t easily reached with commercial air. Most of these are bucket list as well. Like the new journey to East Africa that combines Uganda gorilla trekking with seeing the Great Migration in both the Serengeti and the Maasai Mara. Or an Alaskan one that takes guests to a variety of backcountry lodges for a look at parts of the 49th state most people never see.
Interest in Slow Travel Is Up
Slow travel as a concept was something that was starting to make inroads prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and it’s been perfectly placed to make a comeback as people look to make up for time lost.
Schmudde told TMR that A&K is seeing an uptick in demand for not only longer trips in general, but also to be able to spend more time in any one particular destination. It’s a trend, she said, the company has been seeing grow since the start of the pandemic.
In response, the tour company has developed a new series of longer standalone journeys that visit only 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 of 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” journey visits Germany spending time in Berlin, Munich, Dresden, Leipzig and southern Bavaria.
More Immersive, More Active
Changing demands are also giving A&K the chance to be more creative with its on-tour activities in order that guests “come away feeling as though they’ve experienced the heart of that destination,” Schmudde said.
On the new tour to Peru and the Amazon, guests do a three-day cruise through the Amazon, take part in a full-day hike in the Sacred Valley and a gastronomy-focused bike tour of Lima, along with the chance to hike the last portion of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On the Wings Over the World Alaska journey, guests join a Iditarod racer for a private dog mushing excursion.