Five in a row for Goldman at 2019 Virtuoso Travel Week

Hot topics: Wanderlust, 'High-Team' and Hyper-personalised attention

Australian corporate travel specialist The Goldman Group has been named as the 2019 Top Production agency for the Virtuoso network in Asia Pacific. It’s the fifth successive year that Goldman has achieved the result.

Announced in Las Vegas today at the 31st annual Virtuoso Travel Week, Goldman Travel Corporation was among nine stand out performer travel agency members recognised in 2019 (see below for the full list).

This year’s Virtuoso Travel Week has seen a 7% bump in attendance, with a record-breaking 6,515 travel professionals from 107 countries, who are spending a week at Bellagion Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa. Over the course of the next week, there will be almost 280,000 one-to-one appointments between travel advisors and suppliers/partners.

Building better human connections between Virtuoso’s travel agency members and preferred partners is the cornerstone of the event, with the goal of creating more tailored travel experiences for clients at its core.  When Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch took to the stage on Sunday [11 August, 2019] during the event’s Opening Ceremony, it made perfect sense that his message focused on showing humanity in a world overrun by technology.

Virtuoso Travel Week 2019 - the numbers
Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch
Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch

His address followed keynote speaker Chip Conley, Founder and former CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Airbnb’s Strategic Advisor for Hospitality + Leadership and founder of the Modern Elder Academy, who talked of Virtuoso’s legendary reputation of being high-touch, but he called the power of the network “high-team.”

In Conley’s estimation, it makes sense that travel advisors have become “Life Experience Guides,” as people’s biggest regret is not having enough meaningful time to create once-in-a-lifetime memories with the people they love most. With Virtuoso advisors serving as the world’s most discerning, high-touch Life Experience Guides, they can deliver on their clients’ unrecognised needs. According to Conley, we are poised to witness a new sharing economy, with an exchange of information across five generations in the workplace for the first time. It will create an intergenerational collaboration between seasoned professionals who act as mentors to new entrants, benefitting both as they bring their own perspectives to the workplace.

“High-Team” concept

Upchurch added that the “high-team” concept not only connects the network’s travel agency members and partners, it also creates a through-line to customers who value travel differently.

“High-team” places the emphasis on being more human, which is profitable and hard to replicate, and for the group’s preferred partners, it plays a significant role in fighting the commoditisation of products. Upchurch highlighted data from a joint study conducted with YouGov showing that travellers in the same income category, when advised by Virtuoso advisors, spend two times more than non-Virtuoso-advised clients and three times more than completely unadvised clients. Virtuoso clients also listed their advisor as their most influential source of making travel decisions – beating out friends and family for the first time. He noted trust is why referrals are still the number one source of business for advisors.

Speaking of the ubiquitous nature of technology, Upchurch remarked, “If dehumanisation is growing at an exponential rate, we better be exponentially more human. Human-centric business – doing business based in trust – is an innovation in this time.”

Virtuoso Wanderlist

Upchurch also spoke of success as a combination of competency and chemistry. The only way to compete with algorithms is to be what they are not – more human – by showcasing personality and deepening communication. New technologies, such as Virtuoso Wanderlist, support and provide a platform for the human touch. Describing Wanderlist as more than technology, he spoke of its ability to provide a framework and greater context around travel; it’s an anticipation engine that is fun, yet also leads to deeper and more meaningful conversations. As the program rolls out and more advisors complete Wanderlist training, the consumer response continues to escalate.

Citing that innovation is often about recognising patterns that are occurring naturally, Upchurch stated, “If Airbnb is aiming to be Lifestyle Curators, we are going to do all we can to help you be Life Experience Guides. We believe it is the Guide that can best meet many of our customers’ unmet and unstated needs. A Guide is high-tech, high-touch and high-team – a Virtuoso Advisor. And the Wanderlist experience is designed to support that Guide.”


Hyper-personalised attention

Speaking about Virtuoso’s powerfully diverse global network, Upchurch also noted it has added 14 travel agency members in Greater China over the last year, bringing the total to 23. The common theme amongst travellers from all regions is the craving for authentic service that offers them hyper-personalised attention. Delivering that service comes from a myriad of ways, including drawing upon the strength that comes from the cross-collaboration of 20,000 travel advisors in more than 50 countries.

The Opening Ceremony also saw Virtuoso honour some of the standout performers within its network of over 1,000 travel agency member locations:

  • Top Virtuoso Network Production: Protravel International – New York, New York
  • Top Production – Latin America/Caribbean: Viajes Intermex – Mexico City, Mexico
  • Top Production – Asia/Pacific: Goldman Travel Corporation – Bondi Junction, Australia
  • Top Production – Europe/Asia/Middle East: Grand Luxury Group – Paris, France
  • Top Virtuoso Air Production: Travel Experts, Inc. – Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Top Year-Over-Year Growth (Percent): Quintessentially Travel – London, United Kingdom
  • Top Year-Over-Year Growth (Revenue): Direct Travel – Paramus, New Jersey
  • Highest Production per Advisor: Churchill & Turen, Ltd. – Naperville, Illinois
  • Most Engaged Virtuoso Agency: Cruises Etc. Travel LLC – Fort Worth, Texas

Goldman Group success formula

Goldman Travel Group companies under the Goldman Travel Group umbrella, including: Goldman Travel Corporation; Travelcall; SmartFlyer Australia; Quintessentially Travel Australia; and The Cruise Centre.

“We are thrilled to be recognised for the fifth year in a row as a top Virtuoso Agency Producer,” says Tom Goldman, Executive Chairman of Goldman Travel Group. “It’s a great feeling to receive this accolade as the group continues to grow from strength to strength, building success year on year, thanks to our wonderful, hard-working and committed teams,” he concludes.

The Goldman Group has experienced a successful year – and a year of change with the consolidation of its leisure brands. 2019 saw the farewell of the Travel Phase brand, to make way for the roll out of Travelcall – with offices in Melbourne, Bondi Junction and Double Bay. The rebrand was a huge success, and the company continues to experience growth.

On the cruise front, business is booming at The Cruise Centre. In addition to this, Smartflyer Australia – a travel collective that specialises in luxury travel experiences, saw a 25% increase in growth and turnover, and now counts 42 home-based advisors as part of its team.

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