Virtuoso plots European expansion

Virtuoso plots European expansion
By admin

Luxury travel network Virtuoso will expand into the UK and Europe, possibly as early as this year, with longer term plans to take the brand to Asia and the Middle East.

Europe was on the agenda for Virtuoso several years ago but was shelved when the global financial crisis bought the world's economy to its knees.

Now, with many Virtuoso agents reportedly showing growth, global expansion is back in its sights.

Becky Powell, pictured, senior vice president global member sales and development, said the UK and Spain would likely be its first European markets.

"Europe is definitely something we are looking at and it could happen as early as late 2013 or early 2014," she told Travel Today. "The Middle East and Asia are also on the radar. In Asia it's about having a partner to go in there with. It is such a different market."

Virtuoso has a presence in more than 20 countries, including the US and several in Latin America, with 31 members in 50 locations in Australia and New Zealand.

Despite concerns over the economy, Powell said the luxury market remained strong with only the cruise market resorting to discounting.

Eight of out 10 US agents reported revenue growth of between 5% and 25%, she said, growth which is being mirrored in Australia.

"The rich are still travelling, still spending the money and wanting those life experiences," she said.

Virtuoso Australia manager Julie Denovan said local Virtuoso agents "are probably at the upper end of that 5% to 25% range".

The network is targeting growth of 10% in 2013.

Meanwhile, Virtuoso will launch a new enhanced version of its website,, in April. It will include product from its 1700 preferred suppliers with sample itineraries, photographs and ship deck layouts.

Later in the year, consumers will also be able to search for Virtuoso consultants who are specialists in the region that are travelling to.

An Australian version of the site will also be launched.

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