Virtuoso is seeing record growth, with higher than ever attendance at the organisation’s annual Travel Week in Las Vegas – the travel industry’s equivalent to “Fashion Week”.
The 29th annual Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas is being held this year from August 12th to 18th. With 7% growth in attendance, a record-breaking 5,670 travel professionals from 103 countries have gathered at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa, engaging in an incredible number of one-to-one meetings – over 327,000 of them, equaling more than 1.5 million minutes — or 2.9 years. The objective is to foster human connections between members and partners that lead to outstanding traveler experiences.
During the event, Virtuoso has announced several updates on its network growth plus agency and advisor programs.
- The network has reached a new record with 16,000 affiliated travel advisors. Virtuoso now includes over 800 agency locations in more than 45 countries. This growth extends across all global regions, with 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 powerful brand is the engine that fuels this impressive growth, enabling the network and its agencies to attract new advisors. In 2017 alone, Virtuoso has received 1,902 advisor inquiries and referred 408 advisors to member agencies.
- To educate newcomers to the field, the Virtuoso Difference event, held at Virtuoso Travel Week, immersed 75 attendees for a day in the value of joining the network. The event inspires a high conversion rate to Virtuoso membership.
- Virtuoso’s award-winning professional development program continues to grow as advisors seeking a competitive edge take advantage of the diverse offerings. 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 Global Forum, which focuses on agency owners and managers, offers the opportunity to maximize the benefit of membership through partner networking sessions. It is held in the first quarter of each year.
- Virtuoso Travel Week on Tour, aimed at frontline advisors, provides one-to-one networking opportunities and professional development in 22 cities in 2018.
Key Product Differences
- 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. Nineteen 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.
- Virtuoso’s esteemed Hotels & Resorts program celebrates 25 years of leading the industry in 2017. Founded in 1992 with only 20 hotels, today’s program encompasses more than 1,200 properties in more than 100 countries, and includes more five-star hotels than any other program.
- 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. The immense buying power of the network also enables the program to secure exclusive advantages for its clients. Virtuoso preferred properties provide up to (U.S.) $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 pm late check-out.
- Virtuoso’s Air program features 11 new airlines, 10% more commissionable routes than last year and 20% growth in sales year over year.
- Virtuoso’s hotel booking tool, launched last spring, reached an impressive milestone earlier this year: (U.S.) $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 (U.S.) $600. The tool offers the convenience of 24/7 online selection alongside the peace of mind that comes from having a Virtuoso advisor service the booking.
- 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. Advisor profiles, a key feature of Virtuoso.com, are optimized to drive additional visitors to the site and often show up first in search results for the advisor’s name. The mobile version of the site is more robust than ever, with on-the-go visitors now able to search for advisors and products.
- Virtuoso travel advisors are also visiting the site in fast-increasing numbers: their visits are up 108% 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.
- Millennials and Generation Xers are growing as a portion of Virtuoso’s new client mix. Both have increased their share by four percentage points since 2012. Boomers have held steady while Matures have declined in share.
PHOTO – TOP OF PAGE – MATTHEW UPCHURCH – CEO AND PRESIDENT OF VIRTUOSO AT OPENING EVENT