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From military regiment to experiential travel education: 260 years of C&K

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Cox & Kings Group CEO Peter Kerkar presents a book on the group’s 260 years to Shri K J Alphons

It’s not every day you turn 260, more so in the increasingly fickle travel and tourism industry where mergers and closures happen almost at the bat of an eyelash.

But that’s exactly what Cox & Kings Ltd – or as it now prefers to introduce itself, C&K – has done. From its 1758 assignment to the Foot Guard regiment in India, C&K is now a diversified multinational travel conglomerate operating in 22 countries across four continents.

Currently made up of three key verticals, C&K’s main business is to offer travel options to individuals, groups and businesses across budgets and destinations. Its education arm operates experiential learning brands PGL and NST, which are making their way from the UK into markets like Australia. It also handles the hybrid hotel-hostel concept brand Meininger, which at last count has over 9,200 keys across 20 hotels in 12 European cities.

Enabling travel

The last two-and-a-half centuries has seen it introduce numerous destinations and products to the world. Some of the recent firsts to its name include: its Enable Travel digital platform, making travel accessible to disabilities and senior citizens; Trip 360º, which touts India as an adventure destination for cyclists, divers, bikers, trekkers, and thrill-seekers; providing bespoke pilgrimage packages for the Maha Kumbh Mela festival which Indians observe once every 144 years; and even acquiring a Swiss Alps mountain in the name of outbound tourism.

Continuing this legacy and in gratitude towards its Indian customers, C&K took advantage of its anniversary bash to launch a coffee table book celebrating its achievements as well as the ‘260th Year Grand Celebration Offer,’ which promises to fill 2018 with freebies and discounts revolving around the magic number 260.

For starters, international escorted group tours booked with C&K stand to win any of the following at the Lucky Travellers’ Lucky Dip roulette: 260 free holidays each to Dubai, Thailand and Oman; 260 optional tours; 260 free travel kits; 260 discounts of INR26,000 (around US$399) to 260 families right when they go on their holiday; 260 vouchers worth INR26,000 each; and 26,000 gift cheques worth INR5,000 (almost US$77) apiece.

Outstanding holidays

Its current web promotions revolve around an ‘Outstanding Holidays, Mega Discounts, and Gimmick-Free GST’ scheme. Cox & Kings relationships head Karan Anand explained the cheekily named promo: “In celebration of 260 years of travel, we have set up the OMG scheme so that customers will receive assured gifts, best price matching and GST-free offers.

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“This means that reduced rates are available for adventure trips, Enable Travel tours, pure vegetarian tours, girlfriend getaways, and more journeys to destinations in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific. It also means C&K will shoulder the goods and services taxes for each trip.”

Hon Minister of State for Tourism Shri K. J. Alphons (2nd from left) joins Cox & Kings executives (L-R) relationship head Karan Anand, group CEO Peter Kerkar, and global chairman Anthony B M Good, OBE in lighting the Cox & Kings 260th anniversary ceremonial lamp

Of course, C&K held the celebratory bash to thank its travel and hospitality industry partners, who continue to give it support. It rolled out the red carpet to also welcome business leaders and diplomats, with no less than Shri K.J. Alphons (Alphons Kannanthanam), state minister (independent charge) for tourism in India, gracing the festivities.

The honourable tourism minister shared as he congratulated C&K: “The tourism sector in India is looking very positive this year as we have crossed the 10 million mark for foreign tourist arrivals and earned US$27 billion in revenue through the same. This has been possible because of companies like Cox & Kings who have been working together with the government.

In the next three years, we aim to double both the foreign tourist inflow and the revenue we earn from inbound tourism by continuing to work together with the industry.”

“In the next three years, we aim to double the revenue we earn from inbound tourism.”

The minister was not alone in recognising the travel group, given the accolades it has reaped throughout its 260 years. In 2016 alone, it won the Hospitality India Travel Awards for Best Domestic Tour Operator and Best Experiential Travel Company while managing a four-peat Champions of ChinaPlas win.

C&K Group CEO Peter Kerkar replied to all these accolades in his speech: “We are unique in the leisure space with an unrivalled tradition of 260 years of service to our customers. It is with pride that I commend our staff for making our company so successful and more particularly relevant even today. Our longevity is a testimony to their ingenuity and transformative spirit that Cox & Kings remains a world leader in the travel, education and hotel space.”

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