Virtuoso has spoken about the evolution of its business framework to suit markets around the world, repositioning from a standardised structure to a ‘globally consistent, regionally relevant’ model.
Michael Londregan, Senior Vice President of Global Operations at Virtuoso said foundations for the new structure had been laid prior to the COVID crisis.
“One of the things that has been very, very important for Virtuoso is not to waste this crisis,” Londregan told media in Sydney at an event last week. “Before the end of 2019, we’ve been working really hard on how to set our business up in a more global frame.”
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Londregan said Virtuoso’s original business structure, started by Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch 35 years ago, “was a phenomenal idea that started in the USA, where a lot of our business began. We buillt our structure around that market as we got towards the end of 2019”.
Now, with more than 20,000 travel advisors worldwide as of January 2022, Virtuoso continues to grow, broadening its reach beyond the United States where some 55% of its network are operating from. Australia (with 1,600 travel advisors) is the fourth-largest market and up 2% year-on-year, sitting some way off Canada (2,400), then Latin America (2,300). The smallest market in terms of size, Asia, has just 430 travel advisors, but that market’s member numbers soared 41%.
“But more than 45% of our advisors are now outside of the USA. That means 45% of our opportunities are outside of the USA,” Londregan said.
“We’ve always been a global company in terms of having partners in general but we had to change the structure of our business from being someone who exports this good idea about Virtuoso from America to different parts of the world in the hope that it’ll actually work there, to be what we call ‘globally consistent’ – having a core brand, having a core purpose, having a course value set, but being regionally relevant.”
Londregan said the change in mindset required the business to “stop being a US company exporting its value proposition” and instead create structures and operating systems that support the regionalisation of the consortium.
Now, largely being emulated on Virtuoso’s operating structure in Australia/NZ, that framework saw General Managers appointed in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, and EMEA, with more hands-on-deck to look after each regions’ members’ requirements, marketing, events and communication.
Londregan told LATTE that before branching into new markets around the world, Virtuoso would likely see a division of some of its macro-regions split into more discrete zones. That could come in the form of splitting Europe, the Middle East and Asia (EMEA) and treating the Middle East as a separate entity, or dividing up Latin America. Similarly, following Britain’s separation from the European Union, it may make sense to treat Continental Europe and the UK as standalone regions.
“The biggest area that we’ve still got to figure out is the Southeast Asia basin of India, Malaysia, Indonesia,” Londregan said, while also noting that building member numbers in New Zealand was necessary – but unlikely to have a permanent, in-market Virtuoso representative there anytime soon.
Instead of five General Managers reporting to him, that number could rise to seven or eight, he forecast.
Meanwhile, on the local front, Virtuoso appears to have added multiple new Preferred suppliers to its Australian stable, LATTE can exclusively reveal. Among the latest additions are the recently opened Kimpton Margot Sydney, Sequoia Lodge in the Adelaide Hills, Sofitel Adelaide and luxury yacht agency, Ocean Alliance.