Jonathan Cheung, CEO – A&K China – on changing wants and needs
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 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.
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.
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. The travellers are having more diversified needs for customised destinations and products, and starting to 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 nding 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. We will discuss with guests about their “mental” demands. These may be about study, cultural immersion, parent-children interaction, philanthropy and charity, spiritual practice and so on. For example, in October 2019, we have specially designed an Egypt journey for our guests who have a great interest in culture and history. It is like a master class in both Egyptian history and luxury travel. Our guests will not only travel with our external experts from the Academy of Arts & Design, Tsinghua University, but also the region’s best Egyptologists from A&K, whose dedication to the journey is rivalled only by their passion for local art, history and culture.
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. Today, AKP carries on A&K’s social and environmental commitments on a global scale with over 40 projects on all seven continents. Guests of A&K are able to visit these projects and support the continuing development of AKP’s investments in the natural and cultural heritage of diverse destinations around the world.
Photo: Jonathan Cheung CEO, Abercrombie & Kent China