Operators to be 'flexible and nimble' with new product

Operators must be “flexible and nimble” in introducing new and relevant product when borders around the world begin to reopen. 

Speaking on an Aspire webcast, Abercrombie & Kent’s director of product and commercial Ross Pakes said operator would need to be continuously “on the ball” as destinations emerge from lockdown, borders reopen and international travel resumes. 

As a result, and in attempts to meet emerging trends and patterns, Pakes said A&K was pressing “fast-forward” on some of the development plans it had for the future, adding that some things were coming to fruition sooner than initially planned. 

He said the brand expected villas – where guests could self-isolate with a private chef - to prove popular, and for there to be an increase in demand for staycations. He said A&K had already introduced a couple of Scottish itineraries, claiming that could “stand us in good stead”. 

“We’ve got to stay at the forefront of new opportunities and absolutely you’ll start to see more private coming on for A&K. We have an extensive range already – and it’s also global, and not just European villas. We have private homes in Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand. There will be more coming on possibly in the UK and certainly in Europe and I think they will be very popular.”

He said the brand was also getting enquiries for villas with people wanting to travel as early as July this year.

Simon Jeffries, head of product and commercial at Carrier, said flexibility would become increasingly important for consumers when they book future travel, and operators would need to be receptive to demands.

He said Carrier had looked at UK because “staycations were the current buzzword” but said they’d never profess to be an expert in domestic breaks. 

“I’m never going to turn around and say we are an expert in that market because that would be wrong and I’d be disingenuous to our partners and our customers, but that said we will do our best to manage any enquiries that come through for stately homes, hotel buyouts or castle buy outs. 

“We have the contacts and links in the industry but we’re not going to turn around and jump on it and say we’re now UK specialists just because for the next 12 months we feel the UK will be more involved. It would be wrong to do that.”

Jeffries said that Carrier’s strategy wouldn’t deviate from what it has in place currently – with its focus having been on complex itineraries, mindfulness, sustainability, luxury beach break and touring itineraries. Instead of focussing on new deviating to new product, Carrier will focus on enhancing its current positioning and offering, Jeffries added.