Global luxury travel network Virtuoso will break new ground in 2020 when it converts the planned physical version of its annual Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas into an online virtual alternative. Branded as “Virtuoso Travel Week – The Virtual Experience”, the streamed format will be broadcast the week commencing 10 August.
The move was foreshadowed by LATTE last month when Virtuoso Asia Pacific MD Michael Londregan told us exclusively that the coronavirus pandemic had foiled plans for the inaugural Travel Week in Sydney this year. Londregan also said that a virtual alternative for the primary event in Vegas could be on the cards.
Overnight [Friday 8 May 2020], Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch confirmed via video (view below) that postponing the physical format of Virtuoso Travel Week comes in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis and subsequent uncertainty for country lockdown laws and border closures.
Two months ago Upchurch emotionally announced, also via video message, the postponement of the 2020 Virtuoso Symposium in Vienna which was scheduled for mid-March.
Upchurch describes Virtuoso Travel Week as the “largest physical manifestation of our network”, attracting thousands of attendees from over 100 countries. But with host hotel Bellagio Las Vegas currently closed, most members in lockdown and many Virtuoso family members “profoundly affected” by the COVID-19 crisis, the decision to move the event to a virtual solution “is the right one for our members and partners alike”.
The Virtual Experience will begin with an Opening Ceremony on Monday 10 August and will comprise already tried and tested aspects of the physical format but in a new virtual setting. Among the line up already confirmed is an Under One Sky sustainability seminar, with other “creative elements” to be unveiled in coming weeks.
“We’re actively piloting and testing virtual techniques to meet the Virtuoso standard you expect. We will use the best of virtual techniques as long as we have to practice physical distancing,” Upchurch said positively.
The luxury travel guru said the network would use the knowledge gained from this year’s format in the future for a combined virtual and physical show, “because for Virtuosos social distancing is not who we are”.
“We can handle physical, but not social.”
“Being able to see the faces of our colleagues and our friends has been an emotional lifesaver. But it’s the strength of our relationships that this technology has accentuated, not created,” Upchurch concluded.
The physical version of Virtuoso Travel Week was planned for 9-13 August 2020.