Virtuoso is getting close to confirming an Australian version of its colossal Travel Week show in the US within the next few years, LATTE can exclusively reveal.
The global luxury travel network has just wrapped up its 34th edition of Virtuoso Travel Week, with some 4,500 attendees from 100 countries together in Las Vegas. This year’s show included a record haul of participants from Australia and New Zealand, with 110 making the long-haul flight to the US for the 7-day event.
Virtuoso APAC had previously planned to operate a version of its “Fashion Week of Luxury Travel” in Sydney in 2020 however those plans were thwarted by the pandemic.
Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso’s General Manager Australia/New Zealand told LATTE in Sin City that talks to rekindle an Australian version were underway.
Quizzed if Virtuoso Travel Week Australia could take place in 2023, Dalton was adamant it will “definitely not be next year.”
“We did have grand plans in 2020 and, of course, COVID put paid to that, but we have had some discussions around when we might be in a position to bring that back,” Dalton said.
“Realistically, we would look at it again for 2024 but there’s still a lot of water to go under that bridge, but we’ll keep you posted because it’s in discussion,” she confirmed.
Virtuoso On Tour, Destinations
For 2023, Virtuoso is however looking to anchor its annual On Tour event in Sydney, LATTE can also exclusively reveal.
Held mid-year, the On Tour destinations and experiences road show traditionally encompassed events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Next year, the plan is to hold a two-day event in Sydney at the International Convention Centre and provide up to 40 Virtuoso partners from around the globe with the opportunity to spotlight their destination.
Virtuoso On Tour, Destinations will run over two days in June and comprise six regions – UK and Europe, North America, South America, Australia and the Pacific, Africa and Asia – split across six rooms. Each region will provide a handful of partners to spotlight their destination in 4 square-metre booths – similar to Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas – which travel advisors will rotate between during the course of a day.
“Rather than move all those partners and all those booths across Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, we’re going to bring the people to the event,” Dalton said.
“We’re really excited about that. We’re still going through the process of locking it all down but we have great support from the Virtuoso team to trial this as a different way to deliver one of our On Tour events for the first-time in 2023,” she added.
Dalton says she expects the concept will be of great interest to partners who will be able to engage with groups of 6 to 8 travel advisors from Australia and New Zealand for 10-minute sessions – enough time to “go deep”.
“With this region reopening, that’s incredibly appealing to some of our international partners and a real reason for them to put Australia back on the map as a place to come back to in 2023,” Dalton said.
“I wouldn’t want to say it’s a precursor to what happens the year after, but what I would say is that it’s us really thinking about how we can innovate and change up what we do in-market by bringing some of the ideas from Travel Week around the region.”
Virtuoso Owner/Managers Forum 2023, Fiji
Before either of those events, Virtuoso will host next year’s Owner/Managers Forum in Fiji from 19-21 March 2023. LATTE can reveal the event will be hosted at Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa.
Next year’s Forum will be the event’s first offshore since 2019.
“We are evolving our Owner-Managers Forum slightly for 2023 to make sure it’s relevant and fit for purpose for our business owners.”
The 2023 Forum will have the capacity to accommodate up to 40 Virtuoso partners – up from a dozen that were available at past Forums. And whereas in previous years partners sponsored a gala dinner table, next year’s event will enable partners to attend the whole Forum, with matched 5-minute appointments and a ‘mini-tracks’ concept of rotating between 100 business owners.
See next week’s LATTE for more details on the revised Owner/Managers Forum.