Record attendance reported at Virtuoso Travel Week
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
LAS VEGAS — A record-breaking 5,670 travel professionals from 103 countries arrived in Las Vegas this week to attend the 29th annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference
This represents a 7% growth in attendance, making this year’s conference the travel network’s most successful to date. Taking place at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa from Aug. 12-18, Travel Week will host over 327,000 one-to-one meetings, equaling more than 1.5 million minutes, or 2.9 years.
“We need to grow as much as we possibly can without losing our values,” said CEO Matthew Upchurch. “Virtuoso has two jobs: one, to make your agency as profitable as possible; and two, to make it as valuable as possible, which is helpful in a time of ongoing consolidation. We aim to create travel businesses for entrepreneurs of the future.”
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Upchurch also highlighted how Virtuoso is catering to the Canadian marketplace. The network currently has a Canadian strategic group working to customize solutions for Canadians. This includes working with suppliers to promote Canadian pricing in light of the weak dollar.
“There hasn’t been a decrease in Canadian business,” reassured Upchurch, “just a softening of growth.”
During the event, Virtuoso announced the following updates:
- Its network has reached a new record with 16,000 affiliated travel advisors. Virtuoso now includes over 800 agency locations in more than 45 countries, with growth extending across all global regions and more than 1,000 advisors added since January 2017. Half of that growth is organic, stemming from existing member agencies.
- Virtuoso advisor travel sales exceed (U.S.) $21.2 billion per year, an increase of 37% from the previous year, making the network a powerhouse in the world of luxury travel.
- In the past year, Virtuoso has welcomed more than 100 member locations, as well as agencies in seven new countries, including Japan, South Korea and Russia.
- Virtuoso’s award-winning professional development program continues to grow. Over 90,000 courses will be completed in 2017, representing a 25% increase over 2016. Nearly 1,000 live webinars will be offered this year, which will be attended by 60,000 participants.
- A new addition to the slate of professional development offerings are the web15 sessions. The trainings are 15 minutes or less – a fast, accessible format for busy advisors. Sessions are pre-recorded and available 24/7 for one year. Virtuoso currently offers more than 100 web15s and is adding to that library.
- The Virtuoso Certified Travel Advisor program provides an intensive week-long experience for those new to the profession or to Virtuoso. Celebrating its fourth year, the program has graduated more than 200 advisors, assisting them in ramping up quickly to become million-dollar producers.
- Virtuoso Voyages, the network’s cruise enhancement program for clients aboard designated sailings, continues to grow. In 2018, more than 550 departures will offer complimentary benefits to clients of Virtuoso agencies. A total of 19 cruise lines now offer Virtuoso-exclusive perks, with more than 2,000 headquarter groups where clients receive advantages ranging from reduced fares to onboard booking credits to specialty dining at no extra charge.
- The Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts portfolio has grown by 94 hotels this year. The program has also diversified its offerings to reflect the needs of an increasingly global membership as well as changing luxury preferences. Virtuoso preferred properties provide up to US$450 in complimentary benefits per stay, typically including an upgrade to the next room category, a dining credit and complimentary Wi-Fi. Many new hotels are also offering a guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout.
- Virtuoso’s Air program features 11 new airlines, 10 percent more commissionable routes than last year and 20 percent growth in sales year over year.
- Virtuoso’s hotel booking tool, launched last spring, reached an impressive milestone earlier this year: $1 million in sales. Today that figure stands at $1.6 million. The tool is used by Virtuoso advisors, current clients and new prospects to select their choice of 900 network properties, with an average daily rate of more than $600.
- Traffic to Virtuoso.com has risen strongly due to several new advances. The site now receives 130,000 unique visitors per month, a 30% increase from earlier this year. As well, Virtuoso launched international landing pages in 2017 in five languages.
- Virtuoso travel advisors are also visiting the site in fast-increasing numbers: their visits are up 108 percent year over year. One factor behind this growth is the private label sites the network offers to advisors, which display Virtuoso content with the advisor or agency’s branding and are mobile friendly.
- Virtuoso also unveiled new research showcasing the growing importance of cultivating Millennials as luxury travel clients. An analysis of the network’s clients revealed that a greater percentage of Millennials earn more than $250,000 than any generation aside from Matures. 32% of Virtuoso clients in the Millennial age range are in that high-income bracket, compared to 21% of Generation X, 25% of Baby Boomers and 42% of Matures.