|// (c) Virtuoso|
Virtuoso, the global travel agency network, welcomed its travel agency members and preferred travel companies to Madrid, Spain, for its 2011 International Symposium. Hosting approximately 400 people from 33 countries, the symposium took place from April 13-17 at the InterContinental Madrid.
Attendees included travel agency owners and managers as well as executives from leading travel providers who participated in two days of business meetings that focused on “collaborative commerce” as the future of travel. The attendees also experienced Madrid as a preeminent destination for affluent travelers.
During the past five years, Virtuoso reported, it has trained 608 of its travel advisors to become specialists in selling trips to Spain. This focused sales and training effort has resulted in year-over-year tourism revenue growth for the country of 25 to 50 percent. By bringing its symposium to Madrid, Virtuoso hopes to create more specialists for the region, further increasing its sales force for tourism within Spain and Madrid.
Virtuoso introduced the concept of collaborative commerce through its keynote speaker, brand futurist Nancy Giordano. In her keynote speech, Giordano explored the rapidly evolving landscape of the business world, crediting exponential changes in technology, culture and information for the shifts. She went on to discuss the need to keep pace with how customers wish to communicate, learn and experience the world, today and in the future.
Virtuoso President Kristi Jones summarized the two-day session by bringing it home to travel and laying out the steps that Virtuoso intends to take to maintain its leadership position in the industry and to keep its travel agency members in the forefront.
Prominent state, regional and city government dignitaries from Spain also addressed the audience during the general session, including Joan Mesquida, secretary of industry and commerce for the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce; Eva Piera, vice minister of economy for the Economy, Commerce and Consumption branch of the Madrid regional government; and Javier Oyarzabal, the coordinator of economy for the Madrid City Hall.
Álvaro Blanco Volmer, the deputy general director of the Spanish Tourist Board, Turespaña, personally welcomed attendees during the gala dinner, which took place at the Royal Family of Spain’s summer palace, Quinta Del Duque Del Arco. The Virtuoso Symposium Gala marked the first time that a group not hosted by the Royal Family participated in an event at the palace.
Symposium attendees also had an opportunity to explore the city and participate in cultural events that highlighted the beauty and history of the city. Private functions for the group took place at such landmarks as the Plaza de Cibeles, the official City Hall of Madrid; the Círculo de Bellas Artes theatre, where attendees enjoyed an exclusive show and dinner; and, the Casino de Madrid, home to many of Spain’s most important works of art.
Activities provided by Virtuoso’s two Spain-based ground operators, Made for Spain and Valesa Cultural Services, included flamenco dancing, visits to the Prado and Reina Sofia museums with private guides, photography and architecture tours, jewelry making and fashion experiences.
The symposium marked five years of Virtuoso’s successful relationship with the Tourist Board of Spain, which has generated other relationships with various tourism boards throughout the country including the Madrid Region, Valencia, Barcelona, the city of Madrid and the Heritage Cities of Spain.
This is the second time that Virtuoso has brought its symposium to Spain; the event took place in Barcelona in 2004.