Virtuoso luxury travel advisors in Australia and New Zealand have been encouraged to develop a client prioritisation process by the network’s Chairman and CEO, Matthew Upchurch.
Upchurch told delegates at this week’s Virtuoso Owner Manager’s Forum held in Sydney that “there has never been a better time for you to look at your best clients, look at your booker business, actively.”
In a recorded conference call from his hotel room in Washington DC, Upchurch said that there are two ways to make money in travel; either sell more in the same amount of time, or the value of what you sell per trip has to be greater – ie. luxury travel.
Upchurch said the pandemic and travel lull presents an opportunity for advisors to determine “what kind of clients you don’t want to deal with”.
“Not only because of what they book but some of those people that suck the life out of you – they don’t really understand the value. Now is the time to talk to your best clients,” he said.
Upchurch urged the 100+ Aussie and Kiwi travel advisors to communicate openly with VIP clients who appreciate their value, and seek their referrals for new business as travel starts to resume.
“Your best clients want you to survive, and they want you to thrive. They want you to be here when things open up.”
Telling those clients that “the best way you can support me out of this recovery is to help me find people like you, who really understand and appreciate who I am, what I do, and the value that I bring”.
He said that having a client prioritisation process was a key difference between a great advisory business and a traditional agency.
“It’s trying to have a strategy of influencing the demand curve, making sure that you have a client prioritisation strategy so you don’t feel as much victimised by all of a sudden the onslaught of everything that’s coming at you.”
Upchurch told delegates that pent-up demand for luxury travel is “very real” and when the demand comes back it is likely to come to those with a smaller agency base.
“Quality of advisors is going to be something that I think people are going to be very serious about.”
Upchurch heaped praise on his network partners in Australia and New Zealand for their “strength, resilience and courage” and supporting each other, within their advisor community and regional network partners.
“The reality is that the situation that we’re starting to see right now is it’s a little bit of a feast or famine around the world, depending on where you are… but the demand is truly impressive.”
With Australia and New Zealand always being among the top places Virtuoso traveller’s globally desire to visit, and COVID currently preventing international tourism from afar, Upchurch remarked that Aussies and Kiwis now have the place “all to yourselves”.
He applauded the way in which advisors had pivoted to support the domestic market, and as a coalition to add and support new products, coupled with the partnership with Tourism Australia.
“It’s been quite impressive. It’s also been wonderful to see how the partners have rallied around the network as well”.
Later, Upchurch also joined delegates “virtually” via a laptop webcam over lunch – hosted by Italian National Tourist Board – greeting travel advisors and partners from the comfort of his home office in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Virtuoso big cheese was wheeled from table to table atop a rolling cart, conversing and mingling with all in attendance, while some 13,750kms apart!
Virtuoso is conducting similar Forums in each region around the world where it operates.
The network will also conduct a hybrid Virtuoso Travel Week from 8-13 August 2021 for about 2,000 people, while Virtuoso Symposium is being held in Vienna, Austria in late October 2021.