Virtuoso appoints Duncan for ANZ professional development role

Extensive training programs to be unlocked in region for the first-time

EXCLUSIVE: Virtuoso has appointed Account Director Michele Duncan to the newly established role of Regional Professional Development and Training Specialist – Australia and New Zealand.  The new responsibility will see Duncan take charge of advancing the education and professional development of Virtuoso travel advisors in this market.

Duncan has been with Virtuoso for the past five years in various capacities including Business Development Manager, Project Consultant and Global Operations Consultant. Most recently, she has been filling the maternity leave vacancy of Account Director, Anna Davies, since September 2021. Prior to joining Virtuoso in 2018, Duncan was the Owner/Manager of Peninsula Travel in Victoria – a Virtuoso member agency. Her in-depth knowledge, expertise and experience of all things Virtuoso – plus a former stint as a tourism teacher nearly 20 years ago – made her an obvious choice for the role.

Revealing Duncan’s new role exclusively to LATTE, Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso GM Australia/NZ said a key objective for the luxury travel network in 2023 is to differentiate the travel advisor through the continued education and elevation of their role.

Virtuoso Travel Week 2022 - Michelle Duncan with her Virtuoso ANZ colleagues, Jen Pagett (now Uniworld), Fiona Dalton, GM ANZ; Zoe Dean, Marketing Manager and Kara Heaslip, Account Manager - Member Relations.

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Dalton said she had been working on the business case for Duncan’s new position for the past 12 months. With the ‘So Virtuoso’ consumer-facing advertising campaign kicking off successfully late last year in the US, and a local B2C rollout in the works, Dalton believes now is a golden opportunity to heighten further the importance and awareness of the Virtuoso travel advisor.

“This new role underpins one of the three key pillars we’re focused on in 2023 as we continue to move our business forward post-pandemic,” she said.

“To appoint a specialist role in professional development is part of our strategic direction to differentiate the travel advisor in region,” Dalton said.

“The foundation of our member’s proposition is their capability and expertise as professional service providers. And the way we assist with that is to be more strategic in our thinking in terms of the promotion and support that we can provide from Virtuoso.”

Duncan with Georgia Damianakis; Ahoy Club Yacht Charters; Mandy Dwyer, Main Beach Travel; Micheal Londregan, Virtuoso; and Mike Dwyer, Main Beach Travel.

Dalton said she was “extremely excited” to introduce this new dedicated role to the local market. Only Virtuoso’s Latin America office has something similar; however, the position in South America is centered primarily around language.

The educator role will see Virtuoso ANZ tap into the US office’s vast depth of curriculum and course development, which until now has been only available in North America due to time zones.

“Michele is unique in that she sees the world through three lenses – the Virtuoso lens, the owner/manager lens and the travel advisor lens,” Dalton said.

“It’s incredible the amount of content we can access. And now we have access to deliver much of this via the new resource for this region.”

Duncan with Travel Associates members at a celebratory event in Las Vegas at Virtuoso Travel Week 2022.

Duncan’s training schedule will be facilitated both online and face-to-face during times that are convenient for Australian and New Zealanders, both for metropolitan members and for those in regional and rural Australia, and NZ.

She will have a functional reporting line to Kristen Pearson, Virtuoso’s Director, Professional Development and Training in the US while continuing to report in region to Dalton.

Duncan said, “ I am thrilled to be appointed to this newly created role.”

“I understand first-hand the benefit of attracting, engaging, and retaining talented advisors by leveraging Virtuoso’s Professional Development and I am excited to be in a position to facilitate this for others. Members who foster a culture of learning not only experience 20% higher sales but, through their teams evolving skills, give their agency a competitive long-term advantage.”

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