Kuoni hopes to significantly expand sales of bespoke trips to long-haul destinations in 2020 with the launch of an independent travel brand aimed at socially responsible and adventurous clients.
Alfred& Asia, which takes its name from the operator’s founder Alfred Kuoni, aims to offer more in depth, authentic trips to Asia for independent travellers. In future, Kuoni aims to roll the sub-brand out to other regions worldwide.
Kuoni currently offers escorted tours to destinations including Japan and and Vietnam and a collection of premium beach resorts and tours in Asia but until now has not featured an independent travel collection to cater for more complicated, tailormade travel needs.
The sub-brand is aimed at holidaymakers who are mindful of the impact of their travels and want to experience a destination in a purposeful and socially responsible way, said the company.
It will be available to independent travel agents to book as well as through Kuoni shops and direct to consumers.
A new team has been created, who all have specialist knowledge of Asia having lived, studied, worked and travel in the region, to put together bespoke itineraries for clients.
The aim is to put holidaymakers in touch with people who live in the destination who can give them a local perspective.
Alfred& is designed to appeal to all ages, with the back-up of an established brand.
A new website alfredand.co.uk went live in January with suggested itineraries, experiences and inspirational articles, and will be regularly updated.
The site guides users to call one of its six experts, led by Claire Ross, head of specialist products. Agents can call Kuoni’s dedicated team direct to make a booking.
The programme includes holidays which are environmentally, economically and socially responsible and respectful to the natural and cultural heritage.
A cooking class, for example, is offered at Know One, Teach One (KOTO) in Hanoi, Vietnam, which supports at-risk, street children by providing them with accommodation, food, healthcare and job skills.
Ross said: “This has been a year in the making and is part of our strategy to grow sales of complex, tailor-made travel.
“Asia is a part of the world where we see huge opportunities to grow. The region is currently served by Kuoni’s escorted touring programme and a collection of premium beach resorts and tours with our specialist sister company Jules Verne, but does not currently have an independent travel collection.”
Derek Jones, chief executive, DER Touristik UK, said: “Specialist, micro-knowledge is one of the things we know is in demand. Complex, tailor-made travel needs the support of an expert and that’s where we add value.
“We added Journey Latin America to our collection in 2018, which has demonstrated the value of having a specialist division which knows a specific part of the world inside out.”
He added that Kuoni continued to be interested in growing organically and through acquisition of other brands.
He said: “We’re committed to identifying new opportunities, looking forward at the trends in travel and investing in developing new businesses organically or acquiring businesses when we find something we know fits our vision. Our plan is that we will expand Alfred& to other parts of the world.”
The news was revealed in Kuoni’s annual report of its best-selling destinations. Sri Lanka was among the top-sellers just a year after the Easter Sunday terror attacks.