Travel Agents

“It’s the Olympics of high-end experiential travel”: Virtuoso APAC MD talks Travel Week

Ali Coulton

The countdown to Virtuoso’s world-famous Travel Week event is well underway, folks.

In just 19 days, the best in the luxury travel biz will be converging on the strips of Las Vegas!

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And this year the conference promises to be bigger than ever with a jam-packed line up of fab personal development sessions, captivating speakers and thousands of meeting and networking opportunities.

Not to mention the record numbers of luxury travel specialists, buyers and sellers spilling their secrets to crafting the most bespoke journeys imaginable.

We had a chat with Virtuoso’s Asia Pacific managing director, Michael Londregan, to get the juicy deets on this year’s event.

Londregan told us he has been blown away by Travel Week’s popularity this year.

“The event is totally sold out,” he said. 

“We’ve never had to close registrations before, usually if people want to go we’ll make room for them but this year we’ve had to close registrations due to demand.”

With well over six thousand attendees set to attend, the luxury travel network has had to spread the coveted event across three hotels; Aria, Bellagio and Vdara.

“There are over half a million scheduled meetings over the course of the event, and that’s formal meetings,” Londregan said. 

“If you include bars and staying out late there’s probably a million.”

Londregan told us this year has seen a HUGE increase in APAC attendance, with a whopping 160 people from the APAC region, including 140 Australian advisors. Which is up by 20 since last year.

That’s the biggest increase of anywhere in the world,” he said. 

“It’s the largest number of people we’ve ever taken, Asia Pacific’s the strongest growth market although we’ve got increased numbers from all over the world.”

The increase is truly remarkable considering the event is paid for by the delegates themselves.

“There are so many events all over the world and lots of them offer financial incentives for agents and host them to try and get them to go,” Londregan pointed out.

“You would think that at some point in time people would stop paying for our event if they’re getting other events for free and what’s actually happened is the reverse.”

For Virtuoso, this really indicates four things: firstly, owner-managers are willing to invest in quality education for their staff, the second thing is there has been no negative impact from the subsidised events, the third thing is that suppliers are committed to the show because they’ve made the financial investment themselves. 

You wouldn’t want to be an entertainer knowing that you’re paying your audience to be there, right?” Londregan said. 

They pay to come to see the concert which means they want to be at the concert which means they’re a better audience and that’s what we’ve got.”

And number four is as many people are registered for the actual buyer-seller engagement part of our conference as the actual professional development side.

“A lot of it is about best practice,” Londregan enthused. 

“We’ve got best practice on how to keep your customer relationship management going, there’s best practice on how to explain the value you’ll add to the client in an increasingly digital world, there’s best practice on how you actually structure your reiteration and how transparent you are with your reiteration.”

“I think this is a really big one too because in the world of retail we’re all starting to want to know what’s behind the advice being given to clients.”

“Are you telling me because it’s 5 per cent better for me or because its 5 per cent better for you? I think this transparency is becoming quite an important topic.”

But the main point of difference for the conference, Londregan told us, is the scale and scope.

It’s becoming the Olympics of high-end experiential travel.  Does the commonwealth games hurt the Olympics? Not really, in fact, the commonwealth games helps the Olympics because it gets people interested in the concept and then they want to go see the biggest and best version of that.”

There’s an incredible assumption that we all now make of “See you in Vegas” it’s what everyone in our segment says, “It’s great to see you, I’m sure I’ll see you in Vegas”. And so the fear of missing out on that makes it a must see, must do event.”

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