Geoffrey Kent is one of the travel trade’s great characters, and a self-confessed adrenaline junkie. BTN looks at the career of the founder of Abercrombie & Kent, voted “World’s Leading Tour Operator 2010” by World Travel Awards, and chairman of the WTTC.
As the Founder & Executive Chairman of the Abercrombie & Kent Group of Companies, Geoffrey Kent brings a truly extraordinary lifetime of experience, innovation and genuine passion to the world’s most exclusive luxury adventure travel corporation.
A pioneer of the modern luxury safari, Kent has taken his company - and his clients - from heretofore undiscovered areas of the African continent to the furthermost reaches of the globe. Abercrombie & Kent (A&K) offers 350 tours and expeditions in more than 100 countries across seven continents.
Geoffrey Kent’s life began, really, much as he lives it today - amid excitement and adventure in an exotic location. He was born in 1942 while his parents, Colonel John and Valerie Kent, were on safari in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). Growing up on the family farm in the Aberdare Highlands of Kenya, Kent’s eventful childhood was spend in the splendour and drama of untamed Africa. He attended the then-new Duke of York School in Nairobi, which would ultimately produce many of Kenya’s business and science leaders.
At the tender age of 16, Kent undertook an initial solitary exploration of the African continent that would in many ways define the course of his life. On this two-month trek, Kent became the first individual to travel by motorbike on the 5,000 often treacherous miles between Kenya and Cape Town, South Africa.
After attending the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, Kent saw service in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Yemen, Cyprus, Libya and Malta. His distinguished armed forces career was cut relatively short as a result of hearing damage from years spent in heavy tanks.
Back in Kenya, the irrepressibly energetic Kent joined his parents in founding Abercrombie & Kent as a luxury safari operation. By 1967, the elder Kent retired and the younger son moved full bore into turning A&K into the internationally renowned luxury travel powerhouse that it is today.
With the skill of a consummate businessman and the relentless curiosity of a born explorer, Kent created a company that enables travellers to literally discover the world around them. Africa, Antarctica, Australia and the South Pacific. The Orient (China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos), India, Europe, Egypt and the Middle East. South America, Central America and the United States. With A&K, Geoffrey Kent makes the most faraway points on the world map seem somehow more accessible and more fascinating. In effect, they draw charts for previously uncharted territories.
With a fleet of these luxury products around the world, such as the four Sun Boats cruising the Nile, A&K’s own adventure cruise ship, M/S Explorer II, the A&K Hotel Group (Sanctuary Lodges), which includes Chief’s Camp, literally transports passengers to the most beautiful spots on earth. A thoroughly modern, “new millennium” approach to travel ensures state-of-the-art techniques and tours based on the clients’ wandering whims and destination desires.
The Kent formula of providing a “luxury cocoon” from which to explore the world has attracted more than 200,000 clients. A host of prominent personalities have gone away with A&K; Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Henry Kissinger, Diane Sawyer, Sting, Dreamworks President Jeffrey Katzenberg, actor Hugh Jackman, President Jimmy Carter, Bill Gates and First Lady Hillary Clinton are among the literally thousands of well-known people who have journeyed to the wildest and most remote corners of the globe.
A keen and abiding passion for wildlife preservation has marked both the career and personal life of Geoffrey Kent. Together with Jorie Butler Kent he founded the Friends of Conservation, of which HRH The Prince of Wales is the Patron.
Kent is a founding member of the World Travel & Tourism Council, the world’s largest private sector organization for travel and tourism and has just been voted its Chairman for the next two years.
The WTTC Global Travel & Tourism Summit is taking place at the Aria Resort & Convention Centre, Las Vegas, 17-19 May 2011. To find out more visit www.globaltraveltourism.com