Following 20+ years in the airline industry Henry Kartagener sought a new challenge. Knowing that he needed a change, Henry resigned from his post of Marketing & Sales Manager, North America with South African Airways while attending a trade show in South Africa. He immediately began brainstorming with some industry colleagues about what his future in the industry might look like.
In the mid-90’s representation firms such as KAI did not exist for the African market. Henry felt this was an area of need and it is where he found both a challenge and an opportunity. In August 1995 Kartagener Associates Inc. (KAI) was born with three South African suppliers, two of which are still in our portfolio; Rovos Rail and Stocks & Stocks Hotels (now Legacy Hotels & Resorts).
The first 10 years were spent building the sterling reputation within the North American travel community that we enjoy today, and working with other suppliers – hotels, safari lodges, DMCs, tourism boards – in Southern Africa that also wanted to reap the benefits of having representation in the United States. Given the success of KAI and the desire to grow, the company added clients in East Africa to the portfolio in the late 1990’s.
Wishing to diversify the company and build more of a global reach KAI entered into marketing agreements with international travel companies outside of Africa for the first time in 2004. The past decade has been spent further solidifying existing relationships within North America, while finding new opportunities for the KAI portfolio, which now touches 5 continents. We now have a significant footprint throughout all of Asia and we added our first property in South America to the collection.
In 2010 Henry’s eldest son David joined the family business and now holds the title of President at KAI. He is in charge of running the day-to-day operations at the New York headquarters, while also strategizing with Henry on the future of KAI.
The KAI Collection is now a well-rounded portfolio featuring DMCs, hotels, safari lodges, trains and cruise lines that offer guests the ultimate in travel experiences. It has been a great first twenty years and now Henry, David & the rest of the team are looking forward to the next twenty to be even better!