Not even a global pandemic can stop Virtuoso’s annual Travel Week conference, with this year’s event taking place virtually.
Earlier this month, the luxury travel network hosted its 32nd Travel Week over the internet, boasting 4,000 attendees from 96 countries, 72,768 one-to-one meetings between advisors and preferred partners, 20 professional development classes and 50 destination-focused training sessions.
The opening ceremony of the event saw Virtuoso chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch tie future success to transformation and adaptability, which, he said, had been a core focus of the network before the pandemic.
He also emphasised Virtuoso’s investment in innovation around prospecting and interactive client engagement to foster deeper connections with Virtuoso advisors.
Upchurch said businesses of any size can interact with their customers digitally and connected this to Virtuoso’s own strategy, stating “great content is a key to gaining consumer credibility and the award-winning content of Virtuoso Life will be leveraged across print and digital.”
Sustainability was another key focus of the virtual week with the ‘Under One Sky’ summit hosted by Virtuoso vice-chair and sustainability strategist Jessica Hall Upchurch.
Hall Upchurch said the world is poised for a “conscious comeback” and noted how the pandemic has led to a tipping point where the traveller’s heightened level of awareness makes sustainability not just good practice, but good business.
Virtuoso also revealed where people want to travel using Wanderlist’s top-selected destinations to show South Africa as the new favourite, taking the lead from Italy as the most anticipated place to visit. With Italy coming in second, Australia, France and Japan rounded out the rest of the top five spots.
Virtuoso Wanderlist is a free interactive social site for travel dreaming that uses visualisation and personal sharing.
The week’s closing ceremony featured entrepreneur, businesswoman, hotelier and philanthropist Sheila Johnson, who gave an inspiring message of hope, tempered with the adversities the world is facing.
On the topic of diversity, Johnson spoke of how the travel industry, and hospitality, in particular, serves as “a living laboratory of cultures.”
The event was held the same week that Tourism Australia launched a new regional 18-month partnership with Virtuoso.
The national campaign running through to December 2021 is focusing on trade engagement and education across Virtuoso’s network of 1,300 premium travel advisors in Australia and New Zealand.