Virtuoso mothballs Travel Week Australia vision, for now

LATTE chats with COO, Brad Bourland and SVP Global Ops, Michael Londregan

Brad Bourland, Chief Commercial Officer, Virtuoso

Virtuoso Asia Pacific has put the skids on its ambition to host a regional version of Virtuoso Travel Week in Australia, with concerns such an event might thin down partner participation at the annual Las Vegas show.

As LATTE has previously reported, pre-COVID Virtuoso was on the cusp of hosting a Virtuoso Travel Week-like event in Sydney in May 2020, with over 500 delegates registered. However, like most big plans that year, the event was scuppered by the pandemic.

The vision however was rekindled last year, with renewed hopes of a potential Travel Week Australia in 2024.

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Speaking with LATTE about the subject at Virtuoso AU/NZ Forum in Fiji last month, Brad Bourland, Chief Operating Officer and Michael Londregan, SVP of Global Sales outlined the reasoning for mothballing the event for now.

Londregan said Virtuoso will this year host 21 events in Australia and New Zealand during its On Tour series of events around the region. He said more Australian travel advisors will participate in Virtuoso’s On Tour events than would go to Las Vegas.

Virtuoso's Cory Hagopian, SVP Sales & Partnerships; Jennifer Campbell, SVP Network Products & Events; Fiona Dalton, GM AU/NZ; Michael Londregan, SVP Global Operations and Brad Bourland, COO.

“There was this whole appetite that we needed to export this concept around the world at a macro level and in the interim, we’ve started to export it at a micro level, and it’s working,” Londregan said.

Bourland said the On Tour solution was more targeted than the annual multi-day event hosted at the Bellagio and Aria hotels on the iconic Las Vegas ‘Strip’.

“The thing about [Virtuoso] Travel Week, is really, anything’s always on the table. We’ll look at it, and if it makes sense and if it adds value to our members, if it ultimately leads to a better experience for the traveller, we’re all for it.

“But I do think there is some concern for Travel Week itself. While there isn’t as many people that come on a regular basis – depending on where they are in the world – there is one location where so many come together. And if you have one [Travel Week] on this side of the world and one over there you’re probably going dilute partner attendance,” suggesting partners may choose one event over another.

“And that’s part of what makes Travel Week so unique. It’s a lot, and there’s a lot going on.”

The Virtuoso Forum offered "network appointments" between Owner-Managers and partners that had a VTW track-like feel to them

“But what we’re doing now instead is trying to build Travel Week as a kind of growing-small type concept. As it grows, there are Communities and Experiences that you can tailor within Travel Week, to keep some of the intimacy.

Bourland continued: “Even though you have an intimate group here, and there are other intimate groups there, you’ll have some crossover almost like Venn diagrams – some parts crossover and some parts won’t. That way it allows if you really want to be focused on a particular area, we can give you a lot of exposure to that area.”

“If that’s not an area you’re focused on that’s okay ’cause you can go somewhere else where it is focused. And it would be harder and harder to deliver that offering if we had multiple versions of it,” he said.

“At least for the foreseeable future, Travel Week will be what Travel Week is, and then we’ll supplement it in a more micro-tactical way,” Bourland concluded.

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