Demand for this year’s Virtuoso Travel Week is off to a flyer, with early registrations amassed on the first day eclipsing what was achieved in the first two weeks for the 2022 annual luxury travel fixture.
Virtuoso Travel Week 2022 lured some 5,500 attendees from around the globe, with the luxury travel network expecting more visitors globally this year, including a formidable presence from Australia again.
This year’s multi-day conference is being held in Las Vegas between 12-18 August 2023.
Jennifer Campbell, Senior Vice President, Network Products & Events at Virtuoso said there’s clearly a lot of excitement among members for Travel Week 2023, which has undergone a number of modifications, some in response to delegate feedback.
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Available until 31 March, early registrations for Virtuoso Travel Week (VTW) opened on 8 March, and for the first time is based on dynamic pricing, meaning the quicker members secure space, the greater the cost saving.
Dynamic pricing also aims to quell the number of registrations at the door. Last year there were more than 80 partners who arrived unannounced on day 1, some from overseas. Those who miss the registration cut-off also miss the opportunity to participate in VTW’s highly popular tracks program.
Campbell, who in 2023 will mark 10 years with Virtuoso, told LATTE at the Virtuoso AU/NZ Owner Managers Forum in Fiji this week that “we’re innovating and trying a few things differently at Travel Week this year”.
Those changes include shorter matched appointments, new professional development workshops and a change of day for the Tech Summit that debuted in 2022.
Campbell says having the full agenda locked in five months ahead of Travel Week’s opening appears to have generated increased confidence. It also enables Virtuoso to better gauge the size of the bed bank it allocates at its partner hotels in Las Vegas for the conference, namely MGM Resorts’ Bellagio Las Vegas, Aria Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa.
Early bookers have the advantage of selecting their preferred accommodation, with Campbell noting that the allocation for the non-smoking
non-casino and most affordable option, Vdara, was already full.
“For 2023 we have prepared really well with the agenda now bedded down.”
Community Globe Trotting, traditionally held on Saturday and generally drawing a couple of thousand members and partners, has been expanded to have a greater “passion focus”, Campbell says. A series of intensive 3-hour professional development workshops will also be held on Saturday, targeting members “who choose to pursue career development”.
VTW 2023’s Welcome Reception will follow last year’s lead and is also being held Saturday night.
Tracks – Assigned and Matched Appointments
“The other big change is the member and partner appointments on the tracks. Assigned Appointments will be in the morning and in the afternoon will revert to Matched Appointments which we had for years but were paused during COVID as the numbers and algorithms didn’t work. So they are back by popular demand. Members will get to choose their own appointments in that session,” the Atlanta-based Virtuoso executive explained.
“Timings for the [Assigned] appointments were previously 4 minutes before the pandemic, then went to 10 minutes which people really liked, then switched to 8 minutes – it’s a balancing act because some partners need to quantify the number of appointments and meetings they achieve.”
Assigned appointments provide the opportunity for members to meet someone they’ve never met before, to learn about their product or their agency.
“Members weren’t a fan of 4 minutes and they liked 8 minutes, but this year we’re going to 6 minutes,” she said.
“We’re trying to find a happy medium. A conversation in 6 minutes is enough time to get your whistle wet.
“The afternoon’s Matched appointments are a little more strategic as you choose who you spend your time with. They will be 10 minutes each.”
The last hour of every day includes a window where further discussions can be expanded beyond the six-minute speed-dating-esque briefings, for deeper conversations.
In other updates, Campbell told LATTE this year’s keynote speaker has been secured but remains unannounced. She said the VIP was someone who is “forward thinking and who represents a lot of the mindset of the global organisation”.
The Pinnacle Lounge which was inaugurated in 2022 for top producers (those in Virtuoso’s top 1%), will also make its return this year with some tweaks.
AU/NZ market expectation
Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso’s GM Australia & New Zealand said there had been a “good uplift” from Australian members for VTW in the first week of early registrations.
Dalton said last year’s Travel Week attendance from Australia/NZ was “unique” because of the significant quota of Travel Associates owner-managers participating, at between 50 and 6o, taking the local tally up to around 120.
She said she isn’t expecting the same number of Travel Associates members to attend in 2023, however “a lot of our members who couldn’t come last year – because it was too soon after COVID – are coming this year”.
Dalton is confident participation will reach triple digits, with numbers already halfway there.