Deep discounts on luxury travel from Abercrombie & Kent

Deep discounts on luxury travel from Abercrombie & Kent

Have you always wanted to go on safari in Kenya, tour the colorful markets and Mughal palaces of India‘s Golden Triangle, or explore the mysterious Incan settlements of Peru and do so in style? Beginning on Cyber Monday, Abercrombie & Kent will begin its Six Days of Holiday Savings sale, during which 10 luxury trips of a lifetime will be on sale.

Starting at 9am CST on November 28 and running through 1pm CST on December 3, Abercrombie & Kent is offering substantial mark-downs on trips from Amsterdam to Tanzania. Some A&K luxury travel packages will be on sale at a 50 percent discount. The best deals are an 11-day tour of India priced from $2,455 per person (originally $5,595); a six-day journey to Peru and Machu Picchu from $2,395 (usually $5,095); and an eight-day Thailand temple trip priced from $1,660 (was $4,295). You can also choose from Paris in the spring (from $2,495 for six days), a five-day jaunt to Florence and Chianti (from $1,395), and five other “guided independent journeys” starting from $1,795.

All of the packages included in A&K’s six-day sale must be booked by December 3 and take place in spring 2012. So, your chance to become a luxury traveler – or to surprise a loved one with a truly one-of-a-kind gift – is just a click away this Cyber Monday. Visit for details.

Book a custom-made mystery trip with American Express’s ‘Nextpedition’

Book a custom-made mystery trip with American Express's 'Nextpedition'Are you itching to take a trip but not exactly sure where you want to go? Have you ever wished you could take part in an adventure, such as the Amazing Race, in which details of your journey are revealed one segment at a time? You may be an ideal candidate for American Express’s Nextpedition.

Here’s how it works:

First, you’ll need to fill out your Traveler Profile, 15 questions to reveal whether you’re a Histocrat, Poshaholic, Gastronaut, Trengineer, Blisstorian, or one of 20 trendily-named travel personality composites. Once you get your Traveler Profile, Nextpedition will ask you to enter a a few personal details so that an AMEX travel consultant can contact you about your Nextpedition. After setting your budget and travel time and booking your trip, you need only wait for your dossier and vouchers to arrive at your doorstep – approximately one week prior to the start of your trip.One of the coolest components of the Nextpedition package is the Travel Console, a smartphone device that reveals your destinations and mystery activities over the course of the journey. The wi-fi equipped Travel Console also gives travelers the chance to create a Travel Log, which is shareable with your friends and family on Facebook.

As long as you’re willing to give up micromanagement of your itinerary, the idea behind AMEX’s Nextpedition is very appealing. Indeed, the experience hearkens back to the good old days, when you let travel agents worry about open jaw tickets and trip activities while all you had to do was pack. What’s more, the dose of mystery that AMEX infuses into the whole Nextpedition process lends it a hip, reality-show-type feel. What happens if you find out you’re traveling to a place you don’t really like? That’s not addressed in the Nextpedition FAQs. But given that Nextpeditions are limited to destinations in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and trips range from $1,000 to $3,500 per person for a 7-day getaway, you can be the intrepid traveler you always wanted to be without losing any creature comforts.

Does this sound like the kind of trip you’d like to take? Would you be interested in seeing other travel companies offer this type of package? Leave your comments below.

Last minute travel plans made easy with tour expert

last minute travel planLooking for something unique to do this summer on short notice? Don’t have a lot of time to plan but want a good travel value? Finding destinations, flights and hotels sold out when you want to go? Travel agencies have pre-planned packages put together that bundle attractions, hotels, airfare and more making for what can be an economical travel option. Compared to doing it all on your own the economics of buying in to a travel agency package can sometimes make sense. Let’s take a look at ten last-minute travel destinations one tour operator has to offer over for those who can travel in the next week or so.

Viator is a leading online resource for travel experiences, providing access to nearly 9,000 tours, attractions and activities in 750-plus destinations in more than 150 countries. Their in-house travel experts hand-pick trusted local operators to ensure quality, value and service all backed by a low-price guarantee.

“Sometimes the best things do come to those who wait, and travelers who haven’t made plans yet for the July 4th holiday weekend will find many bargains on last-minute tours and activities at,” said Ms. Barrie Seidenberg, president and CEO of Viator Inc. According to Viator, the top 10 list with the best deals to celebrate the July 4th holiday weekend, great for last-minute travel destinations include:

  1. New York – Watch one of the best fireworks displays in the country with a once-in-a-lifetime July 4th VIP Exclusive: Fireworks from the Empire State Building’s Observation Deck. A limited number of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis for this two-hour, private evening event, guaranteed to sell out quickly.
  2. Washington, D.C. – See 100 of the most popular monuments and points of interest in America?s capital after the sun goes down on the Washington D.C. Monuments by Moonlight Night Tour by Trolley, currently more than 50 percent off.
  3. Philadelphia – There’s no better time to visit our nation?s first capital than during a weekend to celebrate America’s Independence. Travelers will save more than 45 percent on admission to six of the city’s premier attractions with a Viator Philadelphia CityPASS.
  4. Las Vegas – Hit the highway out of Las Vegas and spend the day touring two major tourist attractions on the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Day Trip, currently on sale with savings more than 50 percent.
  5. Orlando – Get two days for the price of one at Kennedy Space Center, a short drive from Orlando and the launch site for every U.S. human space flight since December 1968.
  6. San Diego – Tour one of the largest aircraft carriers in the U.S. Navy fleet at the USS Midway Museum, San Diego’s newest visitor attraction. A visit to this historic naval aircraft carrier museum is an essential experience for patriots of all ages.
  7. Boston – Travel north from Boston to historic Marblehead, the birthplace of the American Navy. Along the way, visit Salem, the Witch City and learn about the history of witchcraft and the reasons why the trials occurred.
  8. Niagara Falls – Visit New York’s first state park on an overnight trip to Niagara Falls from New York City. On your journey, experience the state’s diverse ethnic heritage and the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes, one of the country’s premier wine producing areas.
  9. Oahu – Take a sobering journey through U.S. history on a tour of the Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri, the last battleship built by the U.S. Navy. Tickets include skip-the-line access to make the most of a day at Pearl Harbor, complete with a tour of downtown Honolulu and a drive through Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific. An added bonus: receive one free child ticket for each adult ticket purchased.
  10. Memphis – Walk in the footsteps of the King of Rock and Roll at Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland Mansion the number one thing to do in Memphis, Tenn. Upgrade to the Elvis Entourage VIP Package and also receive entrance to a VIP Only Exhibit, Front of the Line Access to the Mansion and more.

Looking at the tour company itself is important too just like choosing a travel agent.

Viator has a rich website with a lot of information as does their iPhone App that connects you to 9,000 “unforgettable tours and experiences around the world” they say, as well as more than 250,000 unbiased traveler reviews and photos. The Viator app lets us research and book tours from a trusted global resource quickly and easily (even at the last minute) directly from your iPhone.

“As passionate travelers ourselves (Viator is the Latin word for “traveler”), we understand the value of having a trusted resource where you can easily find, research and book the world’s best travel experiences” says the Viator website, adding “Over the last 15 years, Viator has built the industry’s largest selection of tours and activities — all provided by local tour operators we hand-pick for quality, value and service, all backed by our low-price guarantee, all supported by more than a quarter of a million unbiased traveler reviews and photos.”

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Flickr photo by Bruno Girin

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Americans prefer independence (when traveling)

The United States is the largest leisure travel market in the world – by far. The closest point of reference is the entire European Union. We’re three times larger than our closest competitor, the United Kingdom. Yet, despite our size, we just don’t spend as much money on packaged travel. In fact, the folks in the UK spend 50 percent more on it than we do.

Over here, the travel business accounts for $271 billion a year, according to travel industry research firm PhoCusWright, and only 7 percent of that ($18 billion) is spent on travel packages. Meanwhile, the UK has an $84 billion-a-year travel industry – not even a third of ours – and they spend $30 billion a year on packages (35 percent of the local market).

What’s the deal?

There are plenty of reasons bandied about. Europeans tend to take longer vacations, with 10 to 14 days not unusual (especially for the residents of northern European countries), and they tend to take more time off than the workaholics in the United States. They go more and longer, which translates to increased spending.

But, this doesn’t explain the affinity for packages. What makes Americans different?

Well, independence is a major factor. Americans usually prefer to set their own agendas, deciding what they want to see and do, taking on the task of research (and coming to places like Gadling – thanks, by the way, we all appreciate it) and putting together the pieces on their own.

Maybe we’re getting lazier or trying to seem like sophisticated Europeans, but the packaged travel market is growing on this side of the Atlantic, even rapidly. Of course, you need to compare it to starting point to understand how this can happen. In 1999, the packaged travel market was effectively nonexistent. Some large, enterprising online travel agencies, however, created a market from nothing, and turned it into an $8 billion space by the end of last year. This “new” offer has grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 50 percent during this time, while tour operators have seen aggregate revenues decline at a compound annual rate of 5 percent.

So, we’re still not heavy package buyers in the United States, but taking the easy way out is becoming more and more attractive.

Insider’s look: why does defining “package” matter?

For the average traveler, definitions don’t matter much. You figure out the type of trip you want to take, whip out your credit card and do the deed. It’s really pretty damned simple. But, for every purchase you make, there are countless eyes watching. Nothing nefarious is going on; it’s all actually quite innocent. When you think about how many people rely on your willingness to open your credit card – and how the travel market as a whole is being beat to hell this year – it makes perfect sense that the industry will watch, analyze and try to find new and interesting ways to get you to lay out some cash for travel.

For the business, definitions are incredibly important. When they look at where the money is going, how a particular trip is defined allows these insiders to communicate, develop strategies and invest in different excursions. If one guy says, “Packages are hot,” and another doesn’t define packages the same way, limited resources will be wasted. When money is pissed away, there isn’t as much available for discounts and other promotions. So, nailing down the lingo actually helps you in the end.

What’s at stake in all this? Well, according to travel industry research firm PhoCusWright, just over $18 billion. Yeah, it’s in bold for a reason. This is a hefty chunk of the total U.S. travel market, but it’s also among the most difficult to understand. There are nuances that mess with the vocabulary. I spent some time as a strategy analyst covering this industry, and sorting out the details is an absolute nightmare.

So, if you’re at all interested in the business of travel, take a look after the jump at the different flavors of “package.” I know there have to be a couple of geeks like me out there who find this stuff fascinating.

Okay, you made it past the jump! You’re one of the devoted. So, let’s get into the weeds. PhoCusWright has a solid definition of package: “a travel reservation containing at least two of the three major travel components (flight, accommodation, car rental) where there was a single booking and payment transaction.”

This isn’t exactly brain surgery, until you think about the different ways that you can pull this formula together. There may be other components, including transfers, day tours, activities, meals and travel insurance. Is an all-inclusive a package? According to this definition, it is. But, you’re really just booking the resort, rather than using a service to pull together the different parts from several vendors. It can get muddy fast.

A package (or, “vacation package”) may include: flight, accommodation, rental car or transfer, day tours or activities, meals and travel insurance.

A charter, on the other hand, is “a flight where the tour operator takes risk on the inventory (or owns the plane) and, usually, sells the seats as part of a package.”

This, of course, differs from “escorted tours,” which “usually include more travel components and have fixed departure dates.”

If you’re looking for a definition of “FIT,” go for the most recent. It used to translate to “foreign independent travel,” which consisted of “leisure trips abroad without an escort or fixed package structure.” This has changed, however, and now refers to “flexible independent travel.” The parts may look like a package, but the itinerary is built specifically for the traveler.

And then, there’s group travel. This consists of both packages and FITs for groups of leisure travelers, with “group” starting at nine people. But, it can vary.

Got a handle on all this? Let’s make it worse.

There are also a number of package providers. “Total vacation packagers” (TVP) is used for all tour operators – but not the online packaging conducted by the major online bookers (like Orbitz). A tour operator provides all kinds of packaged travel, with “escorted operators” a subset that focuses on specialty programs that can become pretty complicated. Online packagers aggregate and sell (duh) online, and wholesalers bundle and resell different products as packages, even if there’s no common theme.

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