First-ever Virtuoso Tech Summit kicks off this weekend

Big Ideas, Startup Showcase and VC Panel to feature multiple speakers

Virtuoso will this weekend be hosting its first-ever Travel Tech Summit, as part of Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas.

The three-hour summit will consist of three components: a Big Ideas Session featuring multiple speakers addressing tech strategies that are driving the industry forward; a VC Panel focused on the innovations and longer-term opportunities that investors are seeking and funding; and a Startup Showcase comprised of companies that are addressing obstacles the travel industry is currently facing.

Led by tech entrepreneur and investor, Gilad Berenstein, Virtuoso board member, and Travis McElfresh, Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Digital & Consumer Products (Big Idea speakers), Virtuoso is putting technology on centre stage to support its long-held belief that its network is best-served by having a choice when it comes to tech solutions.

Image source: Rick Han/Pexeks

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“Innovating and pushing boundaries is something Virtuoso has always embraced,” says Matthew D. Upchurch, CEO and Chairman of Virtuoso

“Our Incubator program helped launch some of the travel tech players that are core to our business today.

“This Travel Tech Summit is just our next step in furthering innovation and ensuring that travel technology benefits our agencies, advisors and the partners who work with us. We believe in fostering technology that enhances the value of human connection,” Upchurch said.

“As I’ve been saying for more than 20 years, automate the predictable so that you can humanise the exceptional.”

Berenstein will kick off the sessions with an overview addressing five key themes:

  • the optimisation of everything;
  • financialisation of travel and how it leads to better consumer experiences;
  • the role of creators and influencers;
  • aggregation and super apps;
  • and emerging technologies focused on the Metaverse and Web3.
Startup company | Image source: RF. .studio/Pexels

The presentation tees up the four Big Ideas speakers, who will explore deeper into each category.

Next, the venture capitalist panel will weigh in with their perspective as investors. While the Startup Showcase will feature five new companies that are developing solutions to ease travel industry pain points and are demonstrating real-world applications.

“After attending so many industry events, both open and closed, it seemed to me there was no home for innovators focused on luxury travel and the advisor/agency model,” said Berenstein. “The goal of this summit is to bring together some of the top minds in the industry, from the largest innovators to that funding development, to the entrepreneurs and start-ups bringing these visions to life.”

Speakers at each session include:

Big Ideas Speakers:

  • Khalid Meniri – CEO and Founder, Selfbook
  • Ethan Hawkes – Head of Strategic Partnerships, Hopper
  • Karen Bolda – Senior Vice President of Partner Products, Expedia Group
  • Travis McElfresh – Senior Vice President of Product, Virtuoso

VC Panel:

  • Gaurav Tuli – Managing Director, F-Prime Capital Partners
  • Chris Hemmeter – Managing Director, Thayer Ventures
  • Chantal Noble Haldorsen – Early Stage VC Lead, Certares
  • Cara Whitehill – Founder and Managing Director, Unlock Advisors

Startup Showcase:

  • Grace McBride – Founder and CEO, Lucia
  • Gary Kohn – Co-Founder, Luxury Travel Hackers
  • Alex Jara – CEO, Deal Engine
  • West Askew – Founder and CEO, Thatch
  • Irving Betesh – CEO and Co-Founder, Sion
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