TORONTO — Virtuoso kicked off a return to in-person events in Toronto yesterday with a day and half of networking between 92 advisors and 60 partners.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a better and more exciting time to be in the industry. I have never seen so much pent-up demand and I have never seen so much enthusiasm,” says Una O’Leary, General Manager, Virtuoso Canada. “Even after the pandemic, I’m very proud to tell you that we still have over 20,000 advisors worldwide working under the Virtuoso brand. And that number actually increased during the pandemic.”
According to Virtuoso, the company now has 1,200 worldwide agencies in 50 countries, just over 2,000 supplier partners, and sales from its network are between US$25-$30 billion. The business is also becoming more global with 45% of agents now located outside of the United States.
“We haven’t wasted the pandemic at Virtuoso, we knew for a long time that we really needed to improve our global capacity and capability. The appointment of O’Leary and the development of her team is to make sure we have global consistency, but also be able to design it around the Canadian market,” says Michael Londregan, SVP, Global Operations.
Virtuoso now has general managers in key locations around the world including Canada, Australia/New Zealand, Asia, Europe and Latin America. The general managers ensure that the Virtuoso brand fits conditions in the local market for members, partners and travellers.
In Canada, Virtuoso boasts almost 2,500 advisors, which is up 11% since 2019. This will also allow its data collection and research to become more granular and region-specific.
Globally, Virtuoso research has identified three major trends for travellers this year:
- Going Big!This is the trend of making up for lost time or revenge travel. Virtuoso has seen a 76% increase in ultraluxe spending.
- Celebration Travel. Travellers are celebrating missed milestones by reconnecting with their family with multi-generational travel to Mexico and the Caribbean in particular.
- Conscious Comeback. 82% of travellers say that the pandemic has made them want to travel more responsibly.
When does Virtuoso expect travel to return to pre-pandemic levels?
Estimates range from the end of 2023 for China, to later in 2024 for some other markets including Canada. But promising signs are already emerging. For example, in Canada this past February, sales reached 85% of 2019 levels, while in March they surpassed 2019 sales and reached 102%.
In a recent survey, 71% of travellers are already booked for 2022, representing a 300%+ year over year increase.
“The outlook for 2022 looks really great. The lifting of restrictions in March is being reflected in the sale numbers, so this is really positive and we’re seeing a lot of optimism in the market,” says O’Leary. “It’s frankly difficult to get a hold of some of our members now as they’re very busy and their phones are ringing off the hook.”
A final note, research shows that hotel rates have gone up as much as 104% within in Canada and 91% globally compared with during the pandemic.