Virtuoso hosted its annual Australia & New Zealand Forum in Adelaide over two days earlier this week, in the process of re-connecting 150 owners and managers and preferred partners from the luxury travel conglomerate. Participating at Virtuoso Forum ANZ was ‘Mr Luxury’ himself, Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch.
The Forum provided opportunities for in-person networking and professional development. The feeling among agency executives – and like that of the global members – was one of optimism, hope and excitement for the rest of 2022.
Matthew D. Upchurch, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso outlined the key activities and opportunities that exist within the Virtuoso ecosystem.
“At its core, Virtuoso is a community of businesses creating value together. That value has culminated in our brand’s consumer recognition and led to the elevation of the travel advisor profession. In a world of commoditisation pressures, what enables us to succeed is combining the power of emotional intelligence and digital intelligence.
“We all work in service of the traveller, and the foundation we’ve built together enhances the connections we have with travellers, with our agencies and advisors, and with external partners that can add value to this ecosystem,” Upchurch said.
The Virtuoso Chairman, back in Australia in the flesh for the first time since the pandemic, also spoke of the organisation’s global expansion with the appointment of five general managers around the world, including Fiona Dalton for Australia-New Zealand earlier this year.
Dalton followed Upchurch by highlighting the changing landscape of luxury travel in Australia and New Zealand. “Virtuoso is growing and becoming a truly global brand that is globally consistent but regionally relevant. There are many opportunities that exist in this market for luxury travel advisors, with global outbound travel spend projected to surpass 2019 levels by the start of 2024.
“We need to harness these opportunities and leverage the symbiotic relationships that exist in the Virtuoso network,” Dalton remarked.
Keynote speaker Dr. Richard “Harry” Harris had the room captivated as he shared his story of resilience. Having worked in anesthesia, diving and aeromedical retrieval medicine, Harry and his dive partner Craig Challen were called upon to assist in the Thailand Tham Luang cave rescue of 12 Thai children and their soccer coach after 17 days underground. His personal story of bravery, teamwork and courage resonated with the audience and encouraged attendees to reflect on the past two-plus years as they prepare for a brighter future ahead.
The delegation then dispersed to attend six professional development sessions, including an intimate Q&A with Upchurch, and a session on leading with relevance and influence by Neen James, executive strategist for luxury and legacy brands. Members also attended an intergenerational ideation session as well as others designed to equip them with the tools needed to attract new talent to their business.
Virtuoso said the event was a resounding success, with members and partners overwhelmingly optimistic about what lies ahead.
Virtuoso’s Australia-New Zealand Forum is the last in a lineup of global Forums that included the US and Canada on 26-28 January; Asia, held virtually on 22 February; Europe, Middle East and Africa, held on 29-30 March in London; Latin America, Caribbean and Brazil, held on 25-28 April in Cartagena; and Canada, held on 28 April in Toronto.
Lead image: Virtuoso Australia’s expanding team includes (from left) Evan Pierce, Account Director; Michael Londregan, SVP; Michelle Duncan, Account Director; Matthew Upchurch, Chairman and CEO; Fiona Dalton, General Manager ANZ; Zoe Dean, Marketing and Events Manager; Kara Lipscombe, Account Manager VIC/TAS/SA/WA; Jen Pagett, Account Manager; NSW/QLD/NZ and Bhavani Aggarwai, Account Manager.