UK luxury travel company opens its first boutique in the Middle East
Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), a luxury travel company, opened its boutique in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, marking its entry into the Middle East. The UK-based company opened the 215 square metre boutique in Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, according to a company statement on Tuesday.
A&K offers customers tailor-made itineraries, flight reservations, private jet travel, safaris, cruises and sailing, among others.According to Geoffrey Kent, the company’s founder and chairman, A&K’s offering is different from that of traditional travel agencies.
“We avoid traditional travel agency design — A&K’s boutiques do not feature desks and racks of brochures. Instead, âTravel Curators’ use traditional canvas maps to inspire conversation and creativity in travel planning, and then we use iPads to give our clients a taste of the unique experiences available,” he told Gulf News in an emailed statement.
The new boutique will feature VIP suites. Customers in Dubai can arrange private home visits with the A&K team.The boutique is the company’s first step in its expansion in the UAE and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, Kent said. A&K has 50 offices worldwide, with boutiques in Harrods, The City of London and Monaco.
The company had chosen to expand to the Middle East because of demand from the region, according to Kent.“We have many existing Middle Eastern clients who book with us already, particularly through our travel boutique in Harrods in the UK, so we saw the opening of a boutique in the Middle East as a natural and obvious step in our growth,” he said.
A&K’s stores have “exceeded our sales expectations,” Kent said, adding that he expects “a similar trend” from the Abu Dhabi boutique.
Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are on the list of areas A&K is looking to expand to, he said.
Personalised services is a growing trend in the travel industry and there is demand for such services in the region, according to Jeff Strachan, general manager at Insights Management Consultancy, a business consultancy with a focus on tourism, hospitality and service industries.
“Any company that invests in personalised services would do well, particularly in the Middle East,” Strachan said.