Chinese demand for international luxury travel is developing rapidly. Gone are the days of hitting over 10 European countries in one trip. We asked Jonathan Cheung, CEO of Abercrombie & Kent China, who is back at ITB China again this year for a keynote, how he sees the market evolving.
Chinese upscale travellers increasingly demand unique itineraries, high degrees of personalisation, considerate service, exclusive access, or are identifying a clear purpose or theme for trips, such as wine tasting or architecture, which leads to a huge surge in the use of luxury travel agencies and consultants. Furthermore, these upscale travellers desire adventures in less-travelled destinations, such as Africa or the Polar regions. The more exotic and extremer the destinations are, the more luxurious experience the guests are caring for.
You say it’s important to satisfy travellers’ ‘spiritual’ demands. What do you mean by that?
Thanks to the expansion of the luxury travel market, most of the affluent travellers are becoming less price sensitive and seasoned. They seek unique experiences and inspirations instead of material goods. For A&K, most of our Chinese guests are senior executives, business owners and entrepreneurs, who’re always finding themselves with a busy and hectic schedule. When we plan the trips for them, we’re always trying to encourage the guests to break out of the box. It may about re-prioritising and making the changes in their life to make it possible. We’re also inspiring our guests that travel can change the world and we can all do our bit to sustain the industry and leave a legacy of goodness. While we maintain the high standard of service as always, we will also discuss with the guests on their mental demands. It may be about study, cultural immersion, parent- children interaction, philanthropy and charity, spiritual practice and so on.
Our philanthropy project is another highlight that I would like to share. The joys of luxury travel are many, but for more and more Chinese guests, the opportunity to leave the confines of our luxury accommodation and connect with people in our destination is one of the things that they love most. The mission of Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), founded in 1982, is to positively impact the lives and livelihoods of the communities where our guests travel.
Photo: Jonathan Cheung CEO, Abercrombie & Kent China