Virtuoso expands regional partnerships

Coral Expeditions, Emporium Hotel among nearly 20 new product associates

Virtuoso has signed its first property in Brisbane as part of an expansion of the luxury travel network’s partnerships in Australia. Emporium Hotel South Bank is one of more than 15 new partners to join the group’s Regional Program as Aussies look to explore more of their own backyard.

Micheal Londregan, Virtuoso Managing Director for Asia Pacific, says the pandemic has brought about an influx in demand from members for additional domestic product, which he admits has been “thin”.

“Our advisors have a very fertile group of clients wanting to do some great experiences.”

In the past Virtuoso members may have been strengthening their firsthand knowledge through famils to the likes of Africa, Tuscany or Hawaii. But not necessarily Australia, Londregan said.

“So we’ve done a lot of work to really capitalise on sending clients on high-quality Australia holidays. We’ve got to get ourselves trained up so we understand this product as well as we know Africa, Tuscany and Hawaii. We’ve been rewarded for having long-distance expertise and now we’ve got a short-haul market opportunity,” Londregan told LATTE.

To assist with broadening Virtuoso members’ local knowledge, the network has provided vast professional development work and training on the different parts of Australia.

“We’re signing up some local partners to help us. Having 19 hotels in Puglia in Italy isn’t a priority at the moment for this market. We’ve just got to re-calibrate to the opportunity.

“You’ve got to have the right partners and ability to sell it with confidence.”

“There’s a lot of talk that Australians won’t spend the money in Australia and I think if we are really good at telling the story then they will.

“But the way we are going to sell this great tapestry of product in Australia isn’t just by discounting it and knocking 50% off. We’re not going to get the high net worth individuals buying it.”

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort

17 new regional partners

Londregan said Virtuoso has “fired up” its relationship with InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, telling LATTE that arrangement is “crucial to us”.

He admits the network was also void of hotels in Brisbane, until now, and is aware of the pent up demand for interstate markets to visit the Sunshine State.

Another new domestic partner is Coral Expeditions. “They’ve got the capacity to deliver a wonderful experience but on a small scale. Small-scale is going to be very cool,” he said.

At the time of LATTE‘s chat, Virtuoso had signed 17 new regional products, including four in South Australia – a market he says will be a “priority”

“South Australia seems to be making better tourism decisions rather than political decisions,” he said.

On the topic of border closures, Londregan says the Western Australia Government has made it challenging for travel providers, and a missed opportunity to capitalise on interstate growth.

“It’s really a struggle. The reality is that most East Coast ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals have WA product on their bucket list, whether it be the Kimberley or Margaret River. This is an opportunity for them.”

“A year they [UHNW individuals] are not going to Aspen or not going to Tuscany, this is the year to get in there and I think they are going to miss it,” he added.

Virtuoso’s first Brisbane addition

The Terrace, Emporium Hotel South Bank

Emporium Hotel South Bank in Brisbane is the first hotel in the Queensland capital to be affiliated with Virtuoso through its Regional Program. The property was hand-picked for its excellence in hotel service and deluxe facilities.

“It is an honour to be selected to be part of Virtuoso’s Regional Program,” said Emporium Hotel’s GM John McIllwain. “We are thrilled to be affiliated with such an exclusive leading travel agency, and to be the first hotel in Brisbane to be selected to join them is a title we will wear with pride. It is truly humbling to be listed among some of the best luxury hotels in the world.”

Guests booking a stay at the Emporium Hotel through Virtuoso will receive exclusive offers, including a 10% discount off rates, upgrade on arrival, daily breakfast for two per bedroom, early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability), two-hour Champagne High Tea and more.

Lead image: Emporium Hotel South Bank, Brisbane

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