Jonathan Cheung, CEO of Abercrombie & Kent China – on the roadmap for this legendary organisation in this region
From humble beginnings in Africa, Abercrombie & Kent has today become a global organisation. So how is it evolving in this part of the world? We put the question to Jonathan Cheung, CEO of Abercrombie & Kent China.
WE ARE WORKING WITH PARTNER COMMUNITIES ON EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE, CONSERVATION AND ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS
As our founder Geoffrey Kent said, real luxury has three hallmarks: authenticity, flexibility and a sense of well-being. Authenticity means the experience is true to its place and its traditions, incorporating elements of the past and reflecting the local culture. Flexibility refers to service that anticipates your needs and satisfies them in an unobtrusive manner. Peace of mind is the sense of well-being that comes from traveling with a first-class organisation staffed by professionals for whom the word “impossible” does not exist.
When travelling, people are always looking for authentic experiences, thus we offer our clients not only exquisite viands or fancy accommodation but also chances to discover something that others had rarely discovered before. We have our own local offices around the world. When you travel with A&K, your guide is always local, someone with an 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 kind of interest is for your private jet ‘round the world tours?
Demand is strong with many itineraries selling out within weeks of being announced. In China alone, we have seen increasing interest in the private jet experiences from our affluent clients who enjoy their highflying luxury lifestyles. Travelling by private jet allows guests to experience far more than a conventional itinerary — with greater comfort. During those private jet tours, these people are offered a chance of meeting like-minded people with a deep curiosity about the world and sharing exclusive insider access experiences. These include exclusive use of some of the world’s finest hotels, boutique lodges and camps in one-ofa- kind locations. Through our network of on-site offices around the world, we are able to deliver by-invitation-only access to the people and places that make each of these destinations unique, curating experiences beyond the reach of ordinary travellers. Many of our guests own their own planes but understand the challenges of seamlessly planning and coordinating a multi-country itinerary.
Geoffrey Kent is a champion of sustainability. How does this get translated into what you do?
The travel industry is in the midst of a transformation toward greater equity and sustainability. At Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), we are dedicated to positively impacting lives and livelihoods in the communities where our guests travel. We are equally committed to ensuring guests learn about our philanthropic investments as an integral part of their travel experience, and to witness and engage. From Africa to Asia, Latin America to the Antarctic, we are working with partner communities on education, health care, conservation and enterprise development projects. We now have 41 projects in 19 countries where we strive to work with our community partners to address the education, health care, enterprise development/job creation and conservation challenges they face. I would like to share just a couple of examples. In Cambodia, AKP brings fresh, clean water to rural areas, helping thousands of villagers avoid deadly diseases. In Peru, AKP helps severely impoverished Peruvian children “to dream, to play, to hope”. We’re also looking at establishing more AKP projects in China.
What are your thoughts on the initiative by Messe Berlin to launch ITB China – now in its second year?
As an international B2B travel exhibition, ITB has proven its leading positions in the market and we are delighted to see it’s come to China, just like A&K. China has become one the largest and fastest growing source markets of many international industries, with ITB China, more chances are offered to travel market professionals to integrate resources and shape the future together.
Photo: Jonathan Cheung – CEO, Abercrombie & Kent China