Advance bookings are way up, even compared to pre-COVID: Virtuoso
Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch

Advance bookings are way up, even compared to pre-COVID: Virtuoso

SAN ANTONIO — Despite recent challenges, attendees at Virtuoso’s recent U.S. & Canada Forum say they see potential for 2022.

More than 350 travel agency owners and managers from Virtuoso’s membership in the U.S. and Canada took part in the conference in-person, attending the 3-day event at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, TX. Others joined virtually via livestream. There were more than 1,300 one-to-one networking appointments, numerous professional development courses, and keynotes.

According to Virtuoso’s data, advanced tour bookings for Virtuoso member agencies are up 35% in January 2022 vs. January 2020. And future cruise bookings are up 103% vs. 2019.

According to Virtuoso’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Helen McCabe-Young, clients who receive Virtuoso’s marketing spend 42% more than those who do not.

Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch said that at its core, “Virtuoso is a community of businesses creating value together.”

Upchurch added: “That value has culminated in our brand’s consumer recognition and led to the elevation of the travel advisor profession. In a world of commoditization pressures, what enables us to succeed is combining the power of emotional intelligence and digital intelligence. We all work in service of the traveller, and the foundation we’ve built together enhances the connections we have with travellers, with our agencies and advisors, and with external partners that can add value to this ecosystem.”

Digital initiatives have played a huge role, he added. Virtuoso’s digital transformation, aimed at attracting and engaging more consumers in support of its members and partners, have seen an almost 230% increase in traffic to and personalized agency and advisor private label sites. A digital version of Virtuoso’s Best of the Best hotel catalogue, as well as travel planning site Wanderlist, were major drivers.

Virtuoso agency members at the U.S. & Canada Forum shared their predictions for the year ahead, here are some highlights…

  • 97% said they expect higher sales for 2022
  • 36% anticipate sales to be 21-50% higher; 23% expect sales to be more than 50% higher than 2021
  • Those surveyed said factors that could potentially have the most impact on their businesses included mega viruses and epidemics, geopolitical conflicts, stock market volatility and staffing challenges.
  • 38% of agencies said they are looking to hire independent contractors
  • 34% said they were bringing on management and support staff to help meet market demand

The first in a series of global conferences, Virtuoso’s US & Canada Forum will be followed by forums in Asia (Feb. 22), Europe, Middle East & Africa (March 29-30), Latin America, Caribbean & Brazil (April 25-28); Canada (April 28, in Toronto); and Australia & New Zealand (May 9-10).

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