Around the world in 23 days

After the first departure of its Cultural Treasures: Around the World by Private Jet journey sold out rapidly, luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent added a second date for the once-in-a-lifetime trip.

“This is a journey that circumnavigates the globe in 23 days. It connects our guests to the people and cultures in eight incredible destinations from Taipei to Nepal, Bhutan, Agra for the Taj Mahal, Uzbekistan, Abu Dhabi, Petra in Jordan, and then finally Palermo, Sicily before ending in Boston,” Stefanie Schmudde, VP Product Development & Operations at Abercrombie & Kent, tells Travel Courier. “It’s been very exciting to see the interest in our private jet departure. We attribute this to: after months of not being able to travel, our guests really want to experience the places they’ve always dreamed of visiting. We’re seeing that a lot of the big bucket list iconic destinations are the ones that are booking because people just understand now that things can change rapidly and if there’s a place you want to visit, it’s best to go now and not wait any longer.”

The trip is planned for May 28-June 19, 2022 and comes in at US$136,000 per person for double occupancy. Highlights of the itinerary include a scenic helicopter viewing tour of Mount Everest, hiking through a dramatic marble gorge in Taroko National Park, and a sunrise visit to the Taj Mahal with an overnight stay at The Oberoi Amarvilas overlooking the iconic landmark. Although the team at Abercrombie & Kent anticipated there would be strong pent up demand for travel, Schmudde says the surge of bookings has been next level. 

“I think we all expected that these super high-end travel experiences would be incredibly popular coming out of the pandemic because people really have not been travelling,” she says. “I think people have saved a lot of money over the last couple of years — at least from our guests’ standpoint. But the demand has truly been incredible and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen.”

In general, there’s been “incredibly strong” demand for Abercrombie & Kent’s Private Jet Journeys, which take place on A&K’s chartered Boeing 757. 

“I think the private jet departures have been incredibly popular too because it’s an ultra-luxurious and super exclusive way to travel,” she says. “And you get to see and do a lot of different things in a really comfortable way.”

So, what’s involved behind the scenes to make these memorable trips come together?

“We look at the places that we’ve previously visited, we look at places that we haven’t done before because we do see that a lot of our guests who book private jet departures want to book a second or a third because they enjoyed their trip so much,” she explains. “We want to make sure that there is something new for everybody. And then we work with our local offices on the ground to come up with the most exclusive ways to experience these destinations so it’s really just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our guests.”

Knowing that flexibility is key as international destinations reopen to travellers, Abercrombie & Kent introduced a Book With Confidence policy. For travel through to Dec. 2022, clients can change or cancel up to 15 days prior to departure in the event of a COVID-19 related reason. 

“This past year has been all about adaptability and flexibility,” she says. “What has set us apart in navigating this incredible time is that we offer journeys in over 100 destinations with multiple ways to travel. So whether somebody prefers to travel privately with just their friends or family, on a small group journey, a luxury expedition cruise, or via a private jet, we have all of those options. I think in an environment where things are constantly changing, it’s nice to know that clients have as many options as possible.”

As demand continues to grow with worldwide vaccination levels, there is a renewed confidence in travelling again, which is evident in the number of new bookings coming in. 

“We’re fully expecting that this trend is going to continue to grow throughout 2022 so we are expecting space to be a challenge, especially towards the back half of 2022,” she says. “In addition, as Canadians are able to travel, those that want to travel now versus waiting are going to have a really unique opportunity to experience popular tourist destinations without the usual crowds.”

As for travel advisors, Schmudde believes the trade will play a significant role in the recovery of the industry. 

“These are individuals who live and breathe travel just the same way the tour operators do and they’re truly experts in their field,” she says. “I think we’re all dealing with information overload at the moment. New destinations are beginning to open at a rapid pace, entry requirements are continuing to change, new flight routes are continuing to be added, so I think the travel advisor’s role right now is to make all of the information as simple as possible for their clients, to make their clients feel comfortable and confident in the decisions that they are making during this time so that they can be excited about travelling again and about making up for lost time with their family and friends. At Abercrombie & Kent, we’re very happy to partner with travel advisors to make sure that their clients have a seamless booking and travel experience.”

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