Classic Returns to Virtuoso

Virtuoso and Classic Vacations on Wednesday once again entered into a preferred supplier relationship, after a roughly three-year break following Classic Vacations' acquisition by Expedia. After the acquisition in 2002, Classic Vacations was ousted from the network because Virtuoso did not agree with the tour operator having a relationship with a direct-to-consumer online parent, typically seen as the enemy of travel agents. The decision to renew the relationship was based on several factors, Virtuoso said, including demand, the quality of Classic's product and its ability to customize luxury travel plans. "The industry, its channels, players and revenue models will always change," Kristi Jones, president of Virtuoso, said in a statement. "Our job is to stay ahead of the change and recognize convergence. Classic's commitment to our membership, their strong product offering and their affirmation of the power of this network, all provide a strong foundation for this new alliance." Greg Bernd, vice president of sales for Classic Vacations-which is still owned by Expedia-said he and his team are anxious to reacquaint themselves with Virtuoso's members. "We are excited to meet with many agents personally over the weeks and months ahead," he said. "Classic is committed to this relationship and to providing excellent service to Virtuoso's team and its members."

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