Scott Wiseman, president of Cox & Kings, the Americas, was just in to update us on the activities at the luxury travel company, which he has been heading up for nearly a year now.
Wiseman, who formerly headed up Abercrombie & Kent, has been busily working on internal and external projects for Cox & Kings. Internally, he has created a sales force that covers four regions of the country by time zone: East Coast, West Coast, Central and Southwest. The group of four sales associates marks an increase from just one sole person a year ago and has dramatically increased the ability for Cox & Kings to be in front of the luxury travel advisor community. Bob Friedman, also formerly of A&K, is now the VP of travel agency sales for Cox & Kings.
The company has also relaunched its website, and a travel agent portal is currently in beta testing, it should be ready for a formal unveiling in a few weeks, Wiseman said.
Internally, Cox & Kings under Wiseman has built up “a fantastic destination team,” he told us. The company doesn’t have a call center, rather it allows advisors to speak directly to the product development team to ensure they are reaching the true expert on a destination.
Cox & Kings, whose business is 85 percent customized and private FIT travel and 15 percent small group travel, has seen a 73 percent increase in Europe business for the past year. Hot destinations, aside from the traditional Europe product Cox & Kings also sells (London is pictured, right), include Russia, Croatia, Albania, Scandinavia and Turkey. Wiseman said advisors are looking for a trusted supplier to help them send clients to places that are a bit more exotic or new to the traveler.
The same thought process goes into the small groups. The company for 2014 and 2015 is offering 90 guaranteed departures, which will have no more than 25 participants. Tours to Africa and Arabia, for example visit Namibia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Morocco and Jordan, places where clients might be more comfortable with travel companions rather than going it alone.
Most exciting about Cox & Kings these days are the Dream Trips it allows its destination experts to create and host. For example, Seema Prakash, the destination manager for India and the Subcontinent, has created a program entitled “Ladakh: Land of the Lamas.” Robert Veden, destination manager for Africa and Arabia, has crafted “Tribal Ethiopia, featuring the Bale Mountains and the Omo Valley.”
All in all, Cox & Kings strives to push experiences beyond the norm and this year is working on being able to match up its affluent clientele with affluent residents of specific parts of the world who might have, for example, private art collections that can be accessed on an exclusive basis. “Our guests are looking for experiences that can’t be Googled,” said Wiseman.
Some of the trends the company has cited include the desire for “Short Term, High Yield” experiences which allow travelers to do remarkable things in a shorter period of time. For example, the “Fly/Sail Antarctica” journey flies guests over the Drake Passage to board an expedition ship, rather than taking five extra days to reach their destination. Along those lines, and new for 2014, the company will have a five-day private Himalayan Helicopter Safari: guests do the climb up but fly back down.
“The Quickie” is another travel trend, in which travelers seem to add in an extra destination on a layover, for example, visiting Cartagena, Colombia after going to Argentina, or stopping off in the Seychelles on the way home from Africa.
Thanks to social media and the desire to constantly let the world know what one is doing, the “Geo-See-Where-I-Am” trend encompasses those who want to post everywhere they go when traveling the world. For this reason, said Wiseman, it’s important that guests know they will always be connected to the Internet no matter where they travel. “The days of not having the choice to be connected are gone,” he told Luxury Travel Advisor.