A&K sets up consumer panel to gauge sentiment and future trends

Sister operators Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings have set up a consumer panel as they look to gather data and insight on future travel trends.The brands have put together a panel of clients who have agreed to be part of the on-going group polled regularly.It is hoped the research will provide insight which could help influence product development and strategy for both brands going forward.Kerry Golds, UK managing director for Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings, said the data obtained would be “vital” in helping to ensure they “continue to exceed [client] expectations”.The decision to set up the consumer panel comes after A&K and Cox & Kings polled 2,500 British clients on their thoughts and expectations around future travel.The poll found that travel in summer 2020 was a write-off for those polled, with the largest percentage of people saying they were planning to travel in spring next year. More than half of those surveyed said they intended to start planning travel soon, if they have not started already.A quarter of those polled said they were relooking at their bucket list and revaluating their travel plans.The results reflected a move towards clients being more aware of health, hygiene and safety, which all came as top factors when looking at destinations for future travel. Clients overwhelmingly said they also placed focus on flexibility, with more than 80% of those polled citing ‘flexibility without charges” as a key factor when booking.Europe can top of the list of places people intended to travel to with almost two-thirds of people looking to travel to the continent once safe to do so.Europe topped the destination list for both A&K and Cox & Kings clients, with UK travel coming in in second place for both operators too.A&K clients also put North America, Africa and the Far East in the top five destinations, followed by the Caribbean, South America, Australasia, Indian Ocean and the Middle East.Beach breaks were a popular option with nearly a third of A&K’s audience opting for the Caribbean or the Indian Ocean.Cox & King clients, on the other hand, put the Caribbean in their lowest preference, with South America, Africa and the Indian subcontinent all proving popular.However, 44% of those surveyed flagged that they would be a lot more cautious of where and when they travel.When it came to budget, more than 70% of those polled said that their budget remained the same for the next 12 months.When it came to the types of holidays clients wanted to book, there was a clear leaning towards private accommodation and tours.A&K clients said their preference was for villa holidays followed by wildlife-focussed trips.Cox & Kings clients placed private touring at the top of their list, followed by small group tours and arts and culture-based travel.The research also showed clients placed importance on direct flights, consultant expertise and having comprehensive insurance.Commenting on the research, Golds said: “What holidays look like has changed dramatically, this pandemic isn’t going to be easily forgotten. Unsurprisingly, people want to work with a reputable company so that if something bad does happen, they can rely on their operator to get them home quickly.“We’re starting this consumer panel as our clients have and always will be at the heart of our business, so it’s vital we stay continue to exceed their expectations and we need data to inform us.