Abercrombie & Kent. Adventure by day, luxury by night.
Abercrombie & Kent are an award-winning, luxury travel company with a difference. In an increasingly busy world, A&K understand that holidays are one of life’s most precious commodities and appreciate the trust clients put in us when it comes to planning them.
How did it all begin?
In 1958, Geoffrey Kent, in a rebellious teenage mood, rode a motorbike from Nairobi to Cape Town. En route, he spent a night in the grandest hotel in Africa. It was his first-ever hotel stay. This one night had an indelible effect on the young man. As he recalls musing at the time: ‘Unpaved roads by day, fresh sheets and a spring mattress at night. Adventure by day, security and luxury at night. I could live like this forever.’ He unknowingly had just happened upon his future business’ ethos.
What sets your business apart?
Having our local offices around the globe means, when you travel with A&K, your guide is always local, and it will always be someone with intimate knowledge of the destination. Our guides are experts whose education, field research and personal accomplishments make them ideal companions. Most importantly, they are cultural interpreters who explain local customs and offer thoughtful insights that will transform your understanding of the destination and can arrange insider access to places and people you would never find on your own.
What is the concept behind your business or the problem you’re solving?
Our goal is to inspire people to travel – expanding horizons, learning about different cultures, customs, people and places. There isn’t just one type of A&K customer. Our holidays encompass so much – from lounging on a private island in the Indian Ocean, hill walking in Vietnam to exploring the Antarctic. We offer holidays for people wanting to be indulged, learn or looking for that next Instagram photo. Or even a combination of the three.
Where to next/What is your brand vision?
The desire for experiential travel is on the rise and the fact that we have been doing that for nearly 60 years, so we know what we’re doing. The company top line growth strategy is based around two main objectives: Re-engage the % of the database that is not currently engaged with improved segmentation and targeting to increase relevancy. Introducing a product line that makes the A&K brand more accessible. While still luxury the aim is to market this to a new, slightly younger audience at a slightly more accessible price point (target average booking value £8,000) and that provides more flexibility to mix and match
Managing Director of
Abercrombie & Kent
What do you feel passionate about/what drives you?
What really drives me is delivering the best service to our clients and the best results for our shareholders. I originally set out to be a lawyer, but after a part time job in a travel company where the customer was at the centre of everything we did, I was hooked.
Share an example of early life that has shaped you?
As I mentioned, I skipped university to go straight into work. People at the top must have seen something in me, and trusted me to open their new office in Manchester at the age of 19, managing dozens of people. At the time it was a very old school type of role, and there was me; a 19 year old southerner.
Highlights of your business journey so far?
This has to be getting my first seat on the board before the age of 30. Then landing my first MD role. And later, coming to work for one of the most highly respected and trusted luxury brands in the industry.
Key lessons you have learned along the way?
Surround yourself with good people. Do not be afraid to delegate. Try to maintain a sense of balance between work and family life.
Best piece of advice you have received?
Probably the same answer as the previous question. Life is all about balance.
Advice to an aspiring entrepreneur or woman just starting her career?
Don’t be afraid to aim high, there is no reason that a woman cannot be every as successful as her male colleagues.
What funding route have you chosen for your business and why?
N/A – not my own business.
Some of the challenges you have faced and how you overcame them?
The travel industry can be a very volatile market. Geo-political issues, recession etc. can all have devastating effects on sales. The biggest challenges have been the change management needed throughout those times, in order to protect the business, the workforce and still be left with a business at the end of it for when the sales return. It has involved a lot of holding nerve and taking careful decisions at the right time.
Why is it important to support women-led business?
Women are a rising force in businesses across the globe. While we all know that women are underrepresented across many industries – yet still, their contribution to our economies as business owners and leaders go largely unrecognised by many. This is the reason why we should help women led business owners.
My inspiration is...
Travel, everything I do revolves around travel, personally and professionally.
My greatest fear is...
Not being able to enjoy the things I have worked so hard to do.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is...
Moving to a new city at a young age to start a new office for a large company.
The last time they asked this question it was “guiltless” and we said family. But if you are looking for a guilty pleasure I’d probably say my dog, he’s my third child.
Mantra you live by?
Never lose sight of what’s truly important. It’s very easy to become immersed in the practicalities of life, sometimes you just need to take a step back, breathe and refocus on where you need to dedicate your time.
Female role model?
Michelle Obama – an incredibly intelligent and successful lady in her own right that fulfilled her duty as first lady with nothing but grace and style
Women-led brand you love?
The White Company. I love the quality, style and simplicity of their product and their brand and their customer service is always outstanding.
Top productivity tool?
Not a tool as such, but I’d be lost without my iPhone. I know there are many apps that you can get but what keeps me organised is just having it and being in contact with my colleagues across the world.
A & K has created a SPECIAL OFFER exclusively for Women's Chapter Members