A&K Travel Group has undergone major changes in the past year, from its acquisition of the former Crystal Cruises brand and two of its ocean ships to staffing changes and the creation of new executive positions, including Marett Taylor’s new role as chief of sales for the luxury travel group. Now, the company is doubling down on growth and unifying its brands under One A&K, a new global strategy that Taylor tells senior editor Nicole Edenedo will usher in the next chapter for A&K Travel Group.
Q: What led to the creation of the new One A&K global strategy?
A: The leadership team is creating a vision for the future that builds on two things: land luxury and exquisite at-sea experiences. For Crystal, we have one of the most experienced teams at sea. And for A&K, we have 55 DMCs around the world in 30 countries; that creates an incredible foundation. The changes that are happening now are designed to take the best practices from all of these regions — from digital marketing to print marketing to on-the-ground services, reservation systems — and make it a more seamless experience for our guests.
Q: What are some of the newly created roles and how will they help bring about the global alignment the company wants to achieve?
A: Peter Chipchase is our new chief marketing officer. I envision him helping to position us as the one-stop shop for the high-end traveler, whether it’s cruise, expedition cruise, safaris, land expeditions, private jet. We will be the place that all of those travelers go to get the very best, and he’s creating that marketplace for us and determining how we’re going to send that message out as A&K Travel Group. Fernando Delgado is the chief product officer; he’s trying to align and establish the best-in-class standards for ships, lodges and the new travel experiences that we add to our brand offering. Then, of course, the big one is the chief information officer, Fabio Agostini, who is creating the integrated digital platform, including the booking system, CRM, all of that, so that advisors and guests can have a seamless experience when they’re booking and traveling with us.
Q: How will your previous experience in sales and marketing roles at A&K inform how you approach your new role?
A: My first step will be to look at all of the different source markets: Europe, Australasia, Latin America, North America. I’m going to take some of the practices that North American advisors really like about the One A&K approach here and determine how we can best apply that worldwide. That’s the first step. And there are things that other countries are doing better than we are. So we’ll look at that, determine a strategy from there that is global and pull the best from each region.
Q: How will the new One A&K strategy benefit travel advisors, and are they important to this new global strategy?
A: I think of travel advisors as part of our team. I was raised by a travel advisor — my mother is one — so I definitely have seen that there’s just no comparison in terms of how they represent and serve their clients. We can bring all the expertise in the world to the travel experience because we know the destination, but they know their clients. And for us, that’s one of the most critical components to our success. With One A&K they will need some patience, because we obviously have multiple divisions at the moment that we’re attempting to streamline. But I’ve worked very closely with our advisory board, many of whom have called me over the past few days, and they’re just so excited about the future path. It’s amazing to see how invested in and excited they are about the future of A&K and Crystal.
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