Virtuoso welcomed an audience of 5,000 of luxury travel’s top professionals for its 34th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference in Las Vegas on Saturday. With attendees from 100 countries, including LATTE, this was the largest Virtuoso event since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 4,320 in-person attendees and another 680 virtual.
Running 13-19 August 2022, Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa provide the backdrop for more than 180,000 one-to-one networking appointments between advisors and travel companies, plus a full roster of professional development sessions by renowned presenters and its first Travel Tech Summit. Virtuoso’s Sustainability Council met Sunday to be followed by a wider network session, Under One Sky, furthering its sustainability mission of over 10 years.
Virtuoso Week’s Opening Ceremony, themed “We Believe,” featured keynote speaker, Alison Levine, renowned polar explorer, expedition leader and author, who delivered a message that inspired a standing ovation resonated with the audience: “Backing up is not the same as backing down.” Levine’s emphasis on leaning in to continuously assess and reassess the environment verses being fixed to a set gameplan inspired the audience to rethink setbacks in a new light: “backing up is not backing down” encapsulating what she learned while leading two all-female expeditions to climb Mount Everest.
In line with the Spirit of the Virtuoso organisation led by Matthew Upchurch, CEO and Chairman, her lessons shared are reflected in an industry that has largely rebounded incredibly fast and with full force after two years of demonstrated resilience and commitment.
Upchurch followed with his own message to the network, acknowledging that the rapid return of business has put a strain on many of those within the network: You have the power to choose who you serve. For Virtuoso advisors in particular, he conveyed that their wisdom, knowledge and connections were in higher demand than ever, putting advisors in a position to work with clients who value these assets the most.
He reminded them that the goal is to have an optimised book of business, not to serve everyone. Upchurch also reiterated that this global Virtuoso community succeeds because of a common belief system.
“We’ve chosen to work together because we all believe that there is more to be gained from sharing than individually. Virtuoso is a conduit that enables us to accomplish something together that we couldn’t do alone,” he said.
Upchurch also shared with the audience key innovations that his organisation had been working on for the mutual benefit and success of the entire Virtuoso network. Continuing to grow consumer preference for Virtuoso members, advisors and partners, and innovating the way in which travelers collaborate with the network through digital has been a focus. Following the integration into its website, Virtuoso.com, the travel dreaming site Virtuoso Wanderlist®, now had the ability to be shared more widely through published lists that don’t require an account or platform sign-in to view.
Upchurch explained that a key step forward in the transformation of its digital traveller experience is this expanded accessibility that brings more qualified travelers into its network.
David Kolner, Virtuoso Executive Vice President shared a look at industry insights Virtuoso has been observing. Virtuoso agencies remain very optimistic about their own businesses and Kolner shared that 2023 had the potential to be the industry’s best year yet and with significant continued growth in subsequent years.
Helen McCabe-Young, Virtuoso Senior Vice President, shared a view into Virtuoso’s consumer strategy as it prepares to launch its first-ever consumer-facing global campaign.
While business is already booming for most of its network, Virtuoso’s focus is on taking this unique opportunity to expand and grow the luxury-advised market globally – targeting those who prioritise travel, spend more and value advice from an experienced professional. McCabe-Young shared that Virtuoso has been quietly laying the groundwork and is now ready to launch a consumer campaign that will serve to further elevate Virtuoso’s global branding and consumer appeal by sharing what the network already does best.
Professional development continued to play a pivotal role at VTW. Both in-person and remote attendees received access to Virtuoso Week’s training lineup from well-respected, expert presenters.
With longer, selected appointments complementing the shorter, Virtuoso Week matched one-on-ones and a full day of Globetrotting sessions that focused on Virtuoso’s Communities in cruise, adventure, family, culinary and ultra-luxe travel, Virtuoso members and partners had plenty of structured time to network. A dedicated Cruise Café plus partner lounges, as well as the debut of the exclusive Pinnacle Lounge, a by-invitation-only setting for Virtuoso’s top producing advisors to meet with select partners, will provide additional opportunities to reconnect and conduct business.
Virtuoso Travel Week will continue through Friday, 19 August, with news, trends and industry recognition to be shared during the week.