Virtuoso, representing its worldwide network of 300-plus member travel agencies, has launched a new consumer campaign, Return on Life (ROL). The campaign celebrates the idea that a rich life is not measured by personal possessions but by time well-spent with loved ones, including journeys to new destinations and the memories created by these experiences. The new campaign is backed by agent surveys of the leisure luxury market.
The campaign reflects the travel patterns Virtuoso has seen with the network’s clientele of high-income households, which indicates a shift in consumer motivation and expectations regarding travel. Virtuoso says this shift is consistent with recent trend reports that show consumers are still collecting life experiences, most notably in the way of travel, even as their appetite for acquiring luxury goods slows.
“We are now facing a time of economic uncertainty and naturally people are taking time to reflect on what’s important to them: personal fulfillment and enrichment, quality time with family and friends, and the opportunity to detach from their everyday worries and de-stress," said Matthew D. Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso. "Return on Life encapsulates these desires, and travel is one of the best conduits to achieving a higher ROL.”
Virtuoso says the concept will be reflected in all consumer-facing marketing and that it will emphasize the importance of working with a knowledgeable travel advisor— someone to trust with an asset as valuable as free time. At a time when discretionary spending, even for the affluent, comes with careful consideration, a professional adviser can provide travelers with a confidence and advocacy that starts with the planning process and stays with them throughout their journey.
The campaign is supported by new data. A recent polling of more than 250 Virtuoso member agency owners and managers in six countries supports the ROL concept, as demonstrated in their own businesses. Thirty-six percent of those questioned said their domestic and international leisure travel is the segment most insulated from the current economic situation. Demand for 10-day-plus vacations is leading requests for three-to-five-day trips by almost double, indicating that travelers continue to seek out more fulfilling experiences from their vacations in lieu of quick getaways and long weekends. Nearly half of polled travel advisers said they saw no increase in cancellations over recent weeks, and 42 percent stated that their 2008 revenues are outpacing 2007, providing further proof that travel remains on the forefront of consumer spend.
As Virtuoso unveils the various aspects of its ROL campaign, consumers will access a dedicated website to find advertisements supporting the concept. The network’s agency membership will have collateral supporting this market approach. The network’s own award-winning publications, VIRTUOSO LIFE and Insights, will continue to build on the focus of authentic travel experiences that capture ROL, beginning with the January/February 2009 issue.
Advertisements explaining Return on Life will begin to appear in the network’s publications by December 2008 and online immediately. Travel opportunities that focus on life stages and personal fulfillment as well as value-oriented options, all of which are available through a Virtuoso travel advisor, will be available at www.virtuoso.com/returnonlife.