Global luxury travel network, Virtuoso, is expanding its travel communities in 2019, Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch revealed to participants at the Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas.
The group’s community already comprises four separate arms: Virtuoso Adventure Travel, Virtuoso Wellness Travel, Virtuoso Voyages and Virtuoso Family Travel. Those communities are supported by preferred suppliers in each category and have attracted over 2,300 advisors to four communities. Upchurch announced that stable would expand next year to include Virtuoso Culinary Travel and Virtuoso Ultraluxe Travel.
The network itself has grown to include member agencies in 50 countries, with over 1,000 agency locations and 17,500 advisors worldwide. In the past 12 months, Virtuoso has increased its ranks by more than 200 member locations, at the same time expanding to Turkey, Monaco and Uruguay.
Travel advisor annual sales have surpassed US$23.7 billion, up 12% from the previous year, making the network an even bigger powerhouse in luxury travel. And the future looks promising, with reported sales indicating that cruise sales are up 15%, ground operator bookings are up 14% and tour sales have climbed by 9% year-on-year.
This afternoon, Virtuoso held the 12th Annual Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts Awards Dinner, chosen by travel agency partners and professional travel advisors. The winners included:
- Virtuoso Hotel of the Year: Adare Manor, Limerick, Ireland
- Virtuoso Hotelier of the Year: Patrizio Cipollini, Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
- Best Virtuoso Hotel Ambassador: Andrea Filippi, Belmond
- Best Virtuoso Newcomer: Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel
- Best Virtuoso Wellness Program: BodyHoliday Saint Lucia
- Best Virtuoso Family Program: The Ranch at Rock Creek
- Best Virtuoso Dining Experience: Meadowood Napa Valley – The Restaurant
- Best Virtuoso Bar: Brown’s Hotel, A Rocco Forte Hotel – The Donovan Bar
- Best Virtuoso Achievement in Design: The Silo Hotel, Cape Town
- Virtuoso Award for Sustainable Tourism Leadership – Hotel: Six Senses Douro Valley
Earlier in the week, Virtuoso recognised 20 exceptional destination, cruise and lifestyle partners, as well as an outstanding advisor for her participation in Virtuoso’s Communities initiative at this week’s Virtuoso Travel Week.
The awards recognise partners that shape products to match the needs of Virtuoso member agencies, providing a superlative client experience and strong support of the travel advisor community.
Winners were revealed at three events during the 30th annual Virtuoso Travel Week event, taking place this week at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas.
Ten awards were distributed at the Destination Showcase dinner on 13 August at Bellagio, commemorating partners that provide remarkable experiences to Virtuoso clients and superior service to its advisors:
- Best Curated Travel Partner: Wilderness Safaris
- Best Escorted Tour Partner: Tauck
- Destinations & Experiences Ambassador of the Year: Andrea Grisdale – IC Bellagio
- Destinations & Experiences Partner of the Year: andBeyond
- Best Multi-Generational Program – Cruise: Royal Caribbean International
- Best Culinary Experience – Cruise: Oceania Cruises
- Most Luxurious Guest Experience – Cruise: Crystal Cruises
- Best Virtuoso Voyages Experience: Barcelona by Made for Spain and Portugal
- Best River Cruise Line: AmaWaterways
- Tourism Board of the Year: Switzerland Tourism
The Community Awards were given to one advisor and one partner involved with one or more of Virtuoso’s four specialty niches: adventure, cruise, wellness and family. The winners, presented 11 August at ARIA, were:
- Most Engaged Community Member: Alicia Diez – Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc.
- Most Engaged Community Partner: Micato Safaris
The Alliance Partner Awards were presented on 12 August at a luncheon at Bellagio to outstanding preferred destinations and lifestyle suppliers:
- Most Engaged – North America: Tourism Authority of Thailand
- Most Engaged – Global: Los Cabos Tourism Board
- Most Innovative Alliances Partner: USA Luxury Shopping Consortium
- Most Comprehensive Advisor Program: Tourism Australia
- Hottest Destination of the Year: Portuguese National Tourist Office
- Top Destination of the Year: German National Tourist Office
- Ambassador of the Year: Petra Roach, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
- Most Innovative Lifestyle Partner: Galeries Lafayette
- Honorary Recognition – Virtuoso Travel Dreams Tournament Champion: PromPeru