During its recent International Symposium in Madrid, Spain, Virtuoso unveiled its newest strategy for selling luxury travel: Collaborative Commerce. The symposium was attended by 400 executives representing agencies and suppliers, who gathered to discuss the future of luxury travel.
Virtuoso CEO Matthew D. Upchurch said that collaborative commerce “completes the circle” of travel relationships by creating a dynamic ecosystem in which every component of the equation—agency, supplier and client—meshes together to generate exponentially amplified benefits for each stakeholder.
Upchurch said that the unique business processes of this model will enable the network to harness the momentum of change and build off of it instead of constantly retrenching.
Brand futurist Nancy Giordano, the symposium’s keynote speaker, identified the demographic and behavioral trends that signal a burgeoning change in the relationship between consumers/clients and companies. She said that these are being fueled by the unprecedented social media boom permeating the global economy. Giordano also noted that, while consumers have instant access to vast stores of product information and analysis, they are relying on multiple trusted sources for advice when making their purchase decisions.
Giordano also hosted a panel conversation with four executives representing a cross-section of the Virtuoso network: Gerard Bellino of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, CWT Vacations and CWT Concierge; Jennifer Fox of InterContinental Hotels Group; Rick Meadows of Holland America Line and Seabourn Cruise Line; and Judy Stein of Ovation Vacations.
Together, they discussed their own concrete examples of how this paradigm shift toward collaboration has blurred the lines between the consumer’s business and personal experiences. As a result, clients are demonstrating a clear preference for those brands that deliver transparency and individual customization, especially in the luxury sector.
Scott Ahlsmith, David Kolner and Dan O’Brien of 23TouchPoints, Virtuoso’s affiliated technology and analytics company, also painted a tangible picture of how Virtuoso members and preferred suppliers will leverage technology to engage clients.
They showed agent attendees how to capitalize on the wealth of supplier-generated content in Virtuoso Composer. The technological tool allows agents to manage the profiles of their clients to seamlessly connect them with individually relevant offers and itineraries. Through the program, they will also be able to tap into powerful predictive data that will spur even more business and client satisfaction.
Virtuoso President Kristi Jones capped the two-day business session by announcing the launch of three beta tests, each aligned with a core strength of the collaborative commerce strategy. The tests include the following:
1. Advisor Development: nurturing talent based on a unique sales process inspired by Virtuoso’s Advisor Leadership Group
2. Performance Management: extending the strategic planning and success of Virtuoso’s sales campaigns to destinations
3. Traveler Engagement: leveraging the network’s inherent relationship orientation to foster client loyalty and prospect engagement
Thee beta tests are a prelude to a more comprehensive network-wide implementation of Virtuoso’s collaborative commerce strategy, which will be introduced at Virtuoso’s Travel Mart conference in August.