Travel Agents

Virtuoso says luxury travel growing despite challenges

Kate Webster

Global luxury travel network Virtuoso is experiencing a positive upward trend in the high end of the market, tapping into some of the U.S.$7.2 trillion, or 9.8% of global GDP of the industry.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry accounts for Travel spending is forecast to grow by 3.1% this year alone, and will outpace the global economy’s growth overall.

Taking a piece of the cake, Virtuoso comprises more than 390 travel agencies with over 11,400 travel advisors in 41 countries worldwide. It also counts as global preferred partners 1,700 hotels, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and others. More than (U.S.) $15.5 billion in annual travel sales makes Virtuoso a powerhouse in the luxury travel industry.

Despite a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (known as VUCA), growth in the travel sector remains strong. While global events can impact travel and tourism, travellers – especially luxury travellers – are not letting these challenges stop them from seeing the world. VUCA actually increases the desire for authentic human connections, and that’s where Virtuoso comes in.

Despite Brexit, the U.S. political situation, Zika and the threat of terrorism, Virtuoso is up 5.5% year over year. Among Virtuoso travel agencies, 82% are predicting sales will increase in the coming year. Not one is predicting a decrease.

Virtuoso has also experienced impressive recent expansion in the Asia-Pacific region where the advisor network grew by 47 percent in 2015.

Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch, said “travel advisors have never been better poised for success because consumers continue to search for – and even demand – human interaction.”

“But if you promote yourself solely as a way to book travel, you’ve lost before you’ve even started. As an advisor, you have to show the value you bring because people don’t go to advisors for information anymore, they go for clarity and curation; they want to know if they’re even asking the right questions.”

“Loyalty – not simply repeat business and there is a difference – is created through the emotional human connection, where the advisor delivers security, ease, fun and inspiration, and structural, where the more the advisor knows about the client, the more it becomes a mutual investment. Automate the predictable so that you can humanise the exceptional,” Upchurch added.

Mr Upchurch will be visiting Australia this week, attending the first ever Virtuoso Travel Week Australia – The Cruise Show, an event which will give Virtuoso advisors across three cities information on the latest in luxury cruise from our Preferred Cruise Partners.



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