LISBON — Bookings have skyrocketed – along with travel advisor optimism – according to new stats from luxury travel network Virtuoso.
Key stakeholders from Virtuoso’s travel agency members and preferred partners took part in panel discussions assessing the state of the industry at this point in the pandemic as part of Virtuosos’s 2022 Symposium, held earlier this month onboard Silversea’s Silver Dawn.
The sailing was an exclusive pre-inaugural cruise for the Symposium’s 300+ attendees, comprising a five-day roundtrip sailing from Lisbon with two days of exploration in Porto. The event began with an opening session at the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, with presentations by Virtuoso executives including a keynote from Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch.
Here are some of the takeaways from Virtuoso’s latest data …
. For February 2022, same-store sales were 85% of what they were in February 2019
. When asked how they’re currently feeling about their business, 71% of Virtuoso members said optimistic (up from 43% in January) as did 80% of preferred partners (up from 56%)
. Virtuoso members in the Middle East were feeling the most optimistic (90%) followed by Canada at 82% (up from 26%)
. The industry can expect to see international leisure travel reach full recovery globally against 2019 sometime towards the end of 2023, according to research by Oxford-based Tourism Economics
GENERATIONAL TRAVELLER STUDY
Another big topic for Virtuoso’s 2022 Symposium was a generational traveller study that Virtuoso conducted for more than two years.
Presentations delineating the differences and commonalities between each of the three most prominent generations – Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial – were followed by a Q&A session moderated by Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Network Products and Strategy David Kolner, and featuring Baby Boomer, Generation X and Millennial representatives.
Upchurch spoke about the inter-generational collaboration that has proven to be a great strength within the network, highlighting that mentorship and the sharing of ideas and best practices are foundational to Virtuoso.
“We have a clear advantage,” said Upchurch, “because we don’t just sell experiences. We offer the experience of dealing with us, where travellers benefit from relationships of trust. When the last Boomer turns 60 in 2024, it will be the first generation in history where 80% is expected to live an entire additional generation, about 20-25 years. Add to that the growth of global affluence that only accelerated during the pandemic and the prioritization of spending on experiences over goods by all generations, and you have a growth industry with the value of Virtuoso travel advisors at its core.”
Upchurch highlighted how Virtuoso’s enhanced digital experiences via its website has led to increased traffic and greater visibility among travellers and within the media. He also highlighted the company’s dedication to elevating the B2B experience so that it equally engages its members and partners, just as it does with consumers. New partnerships in technology will provide greater efficiencies and enhancements to the Virtuoso network, he added.
More than half of Virtuoso’s 20,000 travel advisors are now located outside of the U.S., thanks to a push over the last several years to expand globally. Virtuoso’s next Symposium will be in Montreal, May 17-21, 2023.