The Virtuoso luxury travel network has unveiled plans to enhance an array of its programs and initiatives at this week’s Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas. The details come as Virtuoso also revealed growth across key metrics.
During Virtuoso Travel Week, the network’s advisors and partners will attend a massive number of one-on-one meetings – 278,392, totalling more than 1.4 million minutes or 2.7 years. They will attend some 853 separate events during the week, ensuring plenty of opportunities for networking as well as socialising and relationship building. Advisors who have gone to Virtuoso Travel Week once in the last three years sell 67% more than their peers, and advisors who have been at every event over the last three years sell a significant 179% more.
Virtuoso now encompasses over 1,000 agency locations with more than 20,000 advisors in 50 countries, accounting for over US$26.4 billion in annual sales, making Virtuoso a powerhouse in global luxury travel.
2019 sales are forecasted to grow overall by 10.9%:
- Hotel sales up 15.3%
- Air sales up 13.8%
- Cruise sales up 11.5%
- Insurance/car/specialty sales up 10.3%
- On-Site ground operator sales up 10.2%
- Tour sales up 3.2%
In particular, cruise sales are up all over the world with strong growth in newer Virtuoso markets:
- Latin America and Caribbean – 9%
- U.S. – 9%
- Canada – 21%
- Australia – 32%
- EMEA – 100+ %
- Asia – 100+%
Virtuoso Forum allows agency owners and managers to make the most of their membership through professional development and networking. It is the network’s highest-rated event with 99.5% of 2019 attendees saying it met their objectives. The US & Canada Forum will be held in Las Vegas 29-31 January, 2020. Four regional Forums, in Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Sydney and Vienna, will also take place throughout 2020.
Virtuoso Symposium, also for agency owners and managers, is the network’s global thought-leadership and C-level networking event. It will return to Vienna 17-21 March, 2020 for the first time since 2000, when the new Virtuoso brand was revealed there.
Virtuoso Travel Week on Tour, which brings networking and training opportunities for frontline advisors closer to home, will visit 26 cities in 11 countries on five continents in 2019 and 2020.
Virtuoso’s Communities strategy is flourishing, with six communities: Adventure, Voyages, Wellness, Family and this year’s newcomers, Culinary and Ultraluxe. Interest and participation continue to grow, with a 35% increase this year to 3,295 advisors and a 75% increase to 262 partners.
New for 2020: Virtuoso Celebration Travel, covering everything from destination weddings and honeymoons to birthdays, anniversaries and other milestone events.
2019 saw the first Virtuoso Community Day on March 30 in New Orleans for culinary and family travel. Participants unanimously endorsed the event; 100% recommended it as worth attending. The second Virtuoso Community Day, focused on adventure travel, will take place in May 2020.
Virtuoso’s third Community Globetrotting took place 10 August at Virtuoso Travel Week, with 1,265 advisors and 172 partners (up 42%) in 12 pavilions (up 50%).
Advisors participating in Virtuoso Communities benefit through additional training, networking and marketing tools such as themed travel catalogs and Virtuoso.com profile enhancements. The strategy is boosting sales. Advisors who are engaged in Communities are outpacing their non-participating peers with a 19% increase in production compared to 12%.
The first Virtuoso Community Cruise will take place 28-31 May, 2020 on board Seabourn from San Francisco to Vancouver. Over four days, 150 top participating advisors will enjoy a rare opportunity to network with 48 partners.
Virtuoso’s award-winning and diverse professional development program continues to thrive via its Virtuoso Travel Academy portal. Available 24/7/365, a record 6,500 advisors completed more than 123,000 courses through the Academy last year, which represents a 26% increase over 2017.
New research highlights advisor demand for long-term development, with 33% of courses focused on career growth. The network is retooling its Academy offerings to focus on continuous learning, growth and career development over short-term knowledge boosts.
New Virtuoso Travel Academy courses map to long-term professional growth, including topics such as sales training, productivity, social media, and leadership. The web15 trainings, which cover a topic in 15 minutes or less, will be more interactive, with new features such as clickable maps, videos and knowledge checks. Advisors will now be able to download and view Virtuoso Travel Academy courses on a mobile device via an app, available for both iOS and Android.
Virtuoso and preferred partner Approach Guides have created destination-inspired playlists for trending travel destinations, including Australia, Italy and Japan. Playlists include information on everything from history to food to adventures in the destination, and offer videos, articles, websites and audio books. Advisors can view the content and share it with clients.
Advisor Tools and New Programs
The first class of Virtuoso Wanderlist specialists has just graduated, opening up the network’s innovative new long-term planning program to more travellers. Wanderlist offers clients a process to create a customised travel wish list. They rate their interests, preferred experiences and dream destinations online, then receive access to a personalised portal with information such as articles, videos, books and even music playlists. The Wanderlist advisor reviews the online results and creates a plan for future travels that takes into account the desires of all travel companions. Details such as optimal times to visit are included, as are dates when it’s most economical to travel.
Virtuoso Voyages, the network’s longtime cruise enhancement program, now offers complimentary benefits for clients on more than 650 hosted departures. Twenty-one cruise lines provide Virtuoso-exclusive advantages with savings up to (U.S.) $3,000 on 4,500 sailings, and 21,000 passengers have enjoyed those benefits this past year.
Technology and Innovation
Virtuoso Incubator has graduated two new companies to preferred partner status: Approach Guides and Zoom And Go. Next year’s Incubator program will focus on products that assist with two key member challenges: commission tracking and CRM.
The network’s first Technology Innovation Summit was held 10 August at Virtuoso Travel Week, exploring how new technology can impact the travel industry and positively affect the advising profession today and tomorrow.
Virtuoso Innovation Teams are a group of advisors who tackle a complicated topic within the industry, offering recommendations for best practices and new programs. Three new generational Innovation Teams are currently in the works: Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers.
Next year, Virtuoso will also recognise members in each global region with Innovation Awards in two categories: telling the story of why to use an advisor and providing the human touch through processes and tools that help advisors emphasise personal connections. Regional winners will be announced at Forums, with the overall global winner to be unveiled at Virtuoso Travel Week 2020.