Hurtigruten expands Virtuoso partnership to Oceania

Global alliance reaches Australia and New Zealand for the first time

Hurtigruten and Virtuoso have cranked up the reach of their global partnership to now include Australia and New Zealand.

Effective this month, and timed to coincide with next week’s Virtuoso Travel Week, the expanded collaboration recognises Hurtigruten as a leading expedition cruise operator for Australians and New Zealanders.

Over the last five years, Hurtigruten said it has experienced exceptional regional growth, brand awareness and interest in both the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyages and Hurtigruten Expedition operations.

Hurtigruten’s premium fleet, underpinned by a strong heritage of exploration dating back to 1893 and a focus on innovative sustainability, is viewed as “a perfect match for Virtuoso and their guests,” the companies said.

Credit: Harry Nicolaisen/Hurtigruten

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Through the bolstered agreement, the expedition company will now offer Virtuoso clients ‘like for like’ benefits and experiences across the world, alongside commercial benefits, and in-depth support model for the full Virtuoso network. This includes a dedicated agent’s portal, product, destination and brand training in addition to accessing a white-labeled Hurtigruten digital magazine for marketing and communications.

“The decision to expand the relationship was an easy one said,” Damian Perry MD & VP Sales and Marketing APAC for Hurtigruten.

“Professional industry partners are more critical now than ever before. I truly believe that the majority of travel agents across our region have done an extremely good job in difficult circumstances.

“To move forward and rebound as planned we not only need a robust expedition and cruise operating model but the very best specialists and professional client-centric business people to be part of this journey – Virtuoso bring this to the table and we are thrilled to be working with this leading network,” Perry said.

Evan Pierce, Account Director, Virtuoso Partnerships said the luxury travel network was thrilled to extend the reach to the Oceania region, thereby strengthening their direct relationship with Hurtigruten.

“We warmly welcome Hurtigruten to the regional Virtuoso community,” Pierce said.

Expedition Suite, MS Roald Amundsen | Credit: Agurtxane Concellon

Hurtigruten’s US office has been working with Virtuoso since 2016, Perry told LATTE.

“It has been a great partnership and works well. We have always stood back a little as we worked with most agencies anyway. As COVID hit and the world was thrown upside down, it was clear that this end of the market was a critical success factor for travellers to feel safe and travel comfortably.

Perry said the duo had been active in establishing the “building blocks and foundations” over the past six months to broaden those ties to “service the industry, and ultimately the client”.

“The professionalism is absolutely needed. Virtuoso were great in bringing us in.

“There was a genuine match as more and more premium clients are seeking such rich, culturally and environmentally powerful journeys. It’s a genuine win, win, win for Virtuoso, Hurtigruten and mostly, the traveller. They deserve that.”

The Northern Lights | Source: Hurtigruten

“A robust rebound plan needs multiple building blocks and Virtuoso are integral to rebuilding a strong and reliant industry and we are happy to be part of that journey,” added Perry.

The Hurtigruten fleet has continued to sail throughout the COVID pandemic, supporting Norway’s coastal communities and now all seven coastal ships are back in operation, and offering a regular full service to guests.

Hurtigruten’s “Follow the Lights” small group, premium tour and cruising program across Norway, Finland and Estonia has been a highly desired travel experience from clients in Australia and New Zealand, and will now be available to Virtuoso agents worldwide.

Lead image: MS Roald Amundsen | credit: KarstenBidstrup

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