There’s big news coming out of Virtuoso’s Travel Week in Las Vegas. Travel professionals from over a hundred countries are meeting this week at the Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino, and Vdara Hotel & Spa. There, the international luxury travel network announced several updates on its growth as well as new agency and advisor programs. The 29th annual event, held August 12 – 18, has seen a record breaking number of attendees - 5,670, according to the company.
Here are the highlights so far:
- The network has hit a new record of 16,000 affiliated travel advisors, more than 1,000 of those joining since January 2017. Half of that growth is organic and comes from existing member agencies. Virtuoso now works with over 800 agency locations in more than 45 countries.
- Virtuoso advisor travel sales exceed (U.S.) $21.2 billion per year, up 37 percent from the year before.
- This year, the company has added more than 100 member locations as well agencies in seven new countries including Japan, South Korea, and Russia.
- In 2017, Virtuoso has received 1,902 advisor inquiries and referred 408 advisors to member agencies.
- To educate newcomers to the industry, the Virtuoso Difference event, held during the travel week, brought together 75 attendees for a day to inspire a high conversion rate to Virtuoso membership.
- Virtuoso’s professional development program continues to grow. More than 90,000 courses will be completed in 2017, a 25 percent increase over 2016. Additionally, almost 1,000 live webinars will be offered this year, which will be attended by 60,000 participants.
- A new way to learn is the web15 sessions, a 15 minute or less training designed for busy advisors. Sessions are pre-recorded and available 24/7 for one year. There are currently more than 100 web15s and more are expected to be added.
- The Virtuoso Certified Travel Advisor program provides an intensive week-long experience for those new to the travel industry or to Virtuoso. In 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 will head to 22 cities in 2018 and is aimed at frontline advisors to provide one-to-one networking opportunities and professional development.
Key Product Differences
- In 2018, more than 550 cruises will offer complimentary benefits to clients of Virtuoso agencies. Almost 20 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 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 program has added 94 hotels to its portfolio this year. The buying power of the network also enables the program to secure exclusive advantages for clients. Virtuoso preferred properties provide up to (U.S.) $450 in complimentary benefits per stay, usually 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 has 11 new airlines, 10 percent more commissionable routes than last year and 20 percent growth in sales year over year.
- Virtuoso’s hotel booking tool, launched last spring, reached a milestone earlier this year: (U.S.) $1 million in sales. That figure now 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.
- Traffic to Virtuoso.com has risen due to several new advances. The site now receives 130,000 unique visitors per month, a 30 percent increase from earlier this year. Virtuoso also 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 advisor visits are 108 percent 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 announced 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. Thirty-two percent of Virtuoso clients in the Millennial age range are in that high-income bracket, compared to 21 percent of Generation X, 25 percent of Baby Boomers and 42 percent 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.