Virtuoso’s Cruise Icon program to launch down under

Elite Virtuoso sellers of AU$1 million-plus in preferred cruise partners annually can join

Virtuoso has revealed it will introduce the Virtuoso Cruise Icon platform to the Australian and New Zealand markets. The program’s launch in the AUNZ region was assisted by Virtuoso’s Regional Member Advisory Board.

Launched in North America some years ago, the platform represents the top 1 per cent of cruise sellers in that market – ie. those that generate AU$1 million or higher in sales through Virtuoso’s preferred partners.

Announced at Virtuoso Forum AU/NZ 2024 in Bangkok this week, the program will be calibrated to be relevant for advisors in this market, said Cheryl Cheney Bunker, Virtuoso’s VP Global Member Relations.

Cheryl Cheney Bunker, VP Global Member Relations at Virtuoso AU/NZ Forum

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“These are just a few of the tools that we’re using at Virtuoso to help elevate the quality of our advisors,” she said.

“Whether your advisors are seeking to fine-tune their skills, further develop their books of business and expand their knowledge, Virtuoso is here to partner with you and your advisors to make that happen.”

“This is one way to continue to elevate your strategies for supporting and developing relationships with preferred partners and elevating your advisors as well too,” Cheney Bunker said.

For advisors without transactional data from Virtuoso as yet, there will be a new survey tool that will enable owner/managers, or their advisors, to qualify for the Cruise Icon program. Further support will be available from the luxury travel network’s local team.

Citing data from the program’s adoption in the US and Canada, Cheney Bunker said Cruise Icon represented a “significant impact” on Virtuoso’s luxury cruise sales, with members selling 66% more than their counterparts, and generating nearly 19% higher booking value.

Cruise Icon members also book 25% more river cruises than other Virtuoso advisors, with Cheney Bunker saying AmaWaterways witnessed a nearly 300% growth in sales through the platform in 2022.

Benefits of the program include human connection and collaboration with peers at events and quarterly webinars, marketing and branding opportunities, and an annual hosted sailing (this year in Tahiti with Windstar).

Participation in Virtuoso Cruise Icon will be based on 2023 sales with preferred cruise lines.

New AU/NZ Cruise data

Meanwhile, Virtuoso released a variety of cruise data during the AU/NZ Forum. Key takeaways from the research included:

  • Cruising emerged as a “travel frontrunner” for AU/NZ travellers, based on 2023 preferred partner sales. Numbers were up by 60-plus per cent, compared to next placed segment of the market, hotels, up 21%.
  • Ocean cruising was the top style of sailing in 2023 versus 2022, with the following data highlighted:
    • Ocean Luxury: +67%
    • Ocean Premium: +66%
    • River: +52 perce%
    • Contemporary: +43%
    • Expedition: +12%

In 2023, future sales in the AU/NZ region increased by 95% compared to 2022, with the cruise sector witnessing a significant 51% rise over 2022 figures.

And, as LATTE reported this week, Antarctica has featured as one of Virtuoso AU/NZ’s top emerging markets, fuelled by the introduction of new expedition ships in recent years and that flourishing segment of the cruise sector.

Fiona Dalton, former Virtuoso General Manager AU/NZ, said “We knew that expedition cruising and polar cruising was on the rise in Australia but it should be our core focus to convert that consideration over the next 12 months.”

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