Travel Associates is bedding down its alliance with luxury travel network Virtuoso, increasing its number of agencies in Australia from the current 16 to 50, effective 1 January 2021.
The premium retail arm of Flight Centre Travel Group will also spread its reach under the Virtuoso umbrella across the Tasman for the first time, where all 10 Travel Associate branches will join the network.
The latest venture between the parties comes as Travel Associates continues to develop and enhance the service and experiences available to luxury travellers.
An expansion of Travel Associates’ branches in Australia and New Zealand has been in the making for nearly 12 months, Danielle Galloway, General Manager, Travel Associates & Premium Brands told LATTE.
“For several years we’ve watched this relationship develop and grow to the benefit of our clients and our advisers,” she said.
“It was an easy decision to explore further partnership options, and we are a business based on strong connections so it’s been a great collaboration with the Virtuoso team and a fabulous result.”
While not a catalyst for the broadening of the partnership, Galloway said the COVID pandemic presented an opportunity to work closer with Virtuoso.
“Like so many decisions, COVID certainly played a role but it wasn’t the basis of the original desire to partner with Virtuoso across our whole network,” Galloway said.
“The timing has also evolved and 2021 just works well – a very exciting start to a new year for Travel Associates and Virtuoso.”
“I think any business that wasn’t flexible and creative during COVID (and continues to be even now) won’t survive in the long term.”
“We need to be versatile and responsive to our clients needs, and to the environment we operate within – so we definitely created some great kick start ideas and campaigns with Virtuoso over the past 6-8 months,” Galloway told LATTE.
There are 16 anchor Travel Associates around Australia that have been Virtuoso members for 5+ years, including:
- Low & James Travel Associates in Sydney;
- Kennedy & Turner Travel Associates in Brisbane;
- Connelly & Turner Travel Associates in Melbourne;
- Perchalla & Turner Travel Associates in Adelaide (since November 2016) and;
- Raats & Turner Travel Associates in Perth (since November 2016)
From 2021, the number of individual Travel Associates members in Australia will soar to 359.
Quizzed if there was a possibility for members of FCTG’s Travel Partners network to also become Virtuoso members, Galloway said her current strategy is to develop Travel Associates into the strongest premium network in Australia and New Zealand.
“Virtuoso membership and development will certainly support this goal, and if there are home-based agents who are premium specialists and fit the profile for Travel Associates then we’ll certainly have this conversation, however, this is a one-brand partnership,” she said.
Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch said he was delighted to expand the partnership with Travel Associates.
“Their strong commitment to deliver customer service from trusted travel advisors aligns with our Virtuoso brand and a stronger partnership will be valuable as we all work towards recovery,” Upchurch said.
Virtuoso seeks Account Director
Meanwhile, Virtuoso is currently evaluating candidates for a new Sydney-based Account Director, Member Relations position, to commence in early 2021.
The recruit will supervise and support Virtuoso’s Account Managers and Account Administrators.
Key responsibilities include providing input into the regional business plan and budget, identify and develop new business opportunities, management of critical member matters, along with ensuring compliance with the Virtuoso “Playbook”.
To find out more about the new position, click here.
Locally, Virtuoso has a team of four: Michael Londregan, GM Strategy and Managing Director for Asia-Pacific; Account Managers, Anna Davies and Evan Pierce, and Kara Lipscombe, Account Administrator.
Adrian Clarke’s role as Virtuoso’s Marketing & Commercial Manager, Asia Pacific was recently wound up due to the impact of COVID-19.
Lead image: Connelly & Turner Travel Associates, a Virtuoso Member since July 2015