On 8 August, luxury travel agency network Virtuoso kicked off its 27th annual Virtuoso Travel Week.
A record- breaking 4,842 travel professionals from 90 countries congregated at the Bellagio Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, where they conducted over 450,000 meetings with the end goal of building relationships that lead to better traveller experiences.
During the event’s Opening Session, Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch took the opportunity to welcome the network’s newest members, announcing that expansion into Europe, United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Singapore now brings its membership count to 373 travel agencies with 698 offices throughout 30 countries, accounting for a total of 9,850 travel advisors.
Upchurch went on to speak about the unprecedented scenario that is helping propel the luxury travel industry and sales for its travel agency members: four generations of travel advisors serving four generations of travellers.
Drawing upon the message shared by the event’s keynote speaker, “To Sell is Human” author Daniel Pink, Upchurch spoke about the power of its network to its clientele, “True sales is no longer about being the custodian of information. It’s about helping clients find clarity amongst the flood of information online.”
Commenting on why travel advisors are so well positioned for success in the future, Upchurch continued by saying, “You can’t take the human out of humanity. As technology continues to spread into every facet of life, there is a desire– even a craving – for real human connection.”
Upchurch also welcomed special guest Salvatore Ferragamo, CEO of Il Borro in Tuscany, Italy, who delighted the audience with his passion for hospitality, fine wine and delivering authentic experiences for his guests.
Virtuoso also took the opportunity to honor some of the standout performers within the network. Joining Upchurch on stage was David Kolner, Virtuoso’s senior vice president of Global Member Partnerships, who announced Virtuoso’s key production awards:
- Top Virtuoso Network Production: Protravel International – New York, New York
- Top Latin America Production: Teresa Perez Tours – São Paulo, Brazil
- Top Australia/New Zealand Production: Goldman Travel Corporation – Bondi Junction, Australia
- Highest Production per Advisor: Churchill & Turen, Ltd. – Naperville, Illinois
- Top Year-Over-Year Growth (Percent): Andavo Travel – Englewood, Colorado
- Top Year-Over-Year Growth (Revenue): Travel Experts, Inc. – Raleigh, North Carolina
- Virtuoso Network Engagement: Valerie Wilson Travel – New York, New York
Virtuoso also celebrated six of its pre-eminent partners at the Showcase Dinner & Awards. The Destination Showcase honoured partners that provide exceptional experiences to Virtuoso clients around the world, while simultaneously offering superior expertise to Virtuoso travel advisors. The winners are as follows:
- Best Destinations & Experiences: FIT/Custom Partner: Classic Vacations
- Best Destinations & Experiences: Escorted Tour Partner: Tauck
- Best Destinations & Experiences: In-Country Partner: Abercrombie & Kent Kenya
- Best Virtuoso Active & Specialty Travel Partner (VAST): Micato Safaris
- Best Voyager Club Experience: Amber Tours | Mumbai, India: Highlights of Mumbai with Lunch at Oberoi
- Tourism Board of the Year: Tourism New Zealand