Luxury operator Abercrombie & Kent will highlight its DMC network more in its future marketing, believing it gives clients “much-needed reassurance and confidence” in light of the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking in a Travel Weekly webcast, the operator’s managing director Kerry Golds said having 55 DMCs around the globe placed the company in a privileged position. She said prior to the current crisis, the brand didn’t necessarily place much focus on having its own worldwide network, but believed this would change moving forward.
She said they had always struggled to portray the message that having DMCs around the world and “boots on the ground” was beneficial in times of a crisis, but the pandemic had reinforced its importance.
“Showing what we have on the ground and the support we have from our network is going to help to give confidence to clients,” she said.
“We should all be trying to look at that – to give the clients confidence so they book. Whoever they book with, whether it’s Abercrombie & Kent or another company, that doesn’t matter.
“Obviously I prefer it to be us, but at the day of the day we want our industry to be able to grow and to get back to some normality. We’ve got to try to give clients what they want to give the confidence to start moving again.”
Golds said A&K was able to repatriate guests quickly and efficiently because its DMCs were often given early warning about borders closing before the FCO issued official advice.
“We have DMCs in 55 countries and a lot of the managing directors [of the DMCs] are very politically connected and understand what’s going on so we got the heads up about on a lot of the countries before their borders closed,” she said.
“We managed to rebook and get some of our clients out quite often before the Foreign Office advice had come out in the UK – so we moved our clients quite quickly.
“It goes without saying that as with any customer service industry, you get loyalty through these things as well. No money was spared, we just got the client home and thought we’d worry about the rest afterwards – we just wanted to get the clients out in destinations home and quickly.”
When asked about consumer sentiment for future travel, Golds said clients of both A&K and sister brand Cox & Kings were “absolutely adamant they will travel”.
She said the brands had carried out research which showed that 50% of clients were currently planning a future holiday, and said the research also showed positive signs for future budgets, with more than 70% of clients insisting that their budget would remain the same as this year.