first_imgGo back to the e-newsletterMatthew Upchurch, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, proudly spoke of the changes and evolution happening within the travel network at Virtuoso Travel Week.“This week, as you look out across the hundreds of events, you will see a lot of new things about Virtuoso. This event started with 98 people and today we are 98 countries strong, as you saw by the flags represented here today. But with so much going on it’s easy to miss some of our evolutions.”He continued, “The changing of something as big, complex and successful as Virtuoso is not for the faint of heart. This year’s expansion was designed to make this week more personal and more customisable. Its growth provides us with unprecedented options and the connections that we make as the Virtuoso staff make with you during this week makes the work that we do all year long more meaningful to us. And so, our team has worked tirelessly to make this a success.”Virtuoso Travel Week MagazineTo provide advisors and clients with richer content and more solid takeaways, Virtuoso’s marketing and editorial team have evolved the simple event directory into the new Travel Week Magazine.Virtuoso Travel Week on tourUpchurch spoke of both the setbacks and triumphs of Virtuoso Travel Week on tour for 2016: “Virtuoso Travel Week is an event that cannot be contained within these walls. So it has had a huge expansion this year, with 22 tours visiting 66 cities around the world. And while we may have a record 2500 advisors here today, we estimate that by the end of this year we will have connected an additional 4600 advisors to our partners.“Outside the US the format continues its growth and success; in the US most cities had great turnouts, although we did have a few that were disappointing. So you have given us great feedback, and the US format will be refined next year.”“Virtuoso Wellness”Virtuoso Wellness will focus on the booming health sector, which is predicted to reach $680 billion by next year. The new community launched on Sunday 7 August during an experiential event – the Virtuoso Wellness Zone – at Virtuoso Travel Week.Travellers take 586 million wellness trips each year, according to the Global Wellness Summit. In fact, the niche encompasses 15 per cent of global tourism, second only to cultural tourism in revenues. It is also lucrative, as wellness travellers spend 130 per cent more than the average traveller. Virtuoso’s new community unites travel advisors who serve a health-conscious clientele with handpicked partners including hotels, cruise lines, tourism boards and tour operators for networking, education and marketing.“Simply defined, wellness travel encompasses physical, mental and social wellbeing, as well as spiritual health,” says Albert Herrera, Senior Vice President of Global Product Partnerships at Virtuoso. “There’s no doubt that this trend will only continue to flourish. Through our Virtuoso Wellness community, we can connect like-minded individuals and develop a true community that, through regular interactions and peer-to-peer collaboration, can share knowledge, develop expertise and ultimately work together to better serve consumers seeking healthy travel experiences.”Virtuoso announced the following partners as part of its wellness community: Ananda in the Himalayas, BodyHoliday Saint Lucia, Canyon Ranch, Carillon Miami Beach, Clinique La Prairie, Golden Door, Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites, Guanajuato Tourism Board, Lake Austin Spa Resort, Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Miraval Resort and Spa, Rancho La Puerta, Schloss Elmau, Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, The Ranch Malibu, UnCruise Adventures, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and VeraVia at The Park Hyatt Aviara.Voyages programmeVirtuoso has unveiled the newest iteration of its popular cruise enhancement programme that has been delighting clients for more than a quarter of a century. The network has rebranded Virtuoso Voyager Club as Virtuoso Voyages, and enriched the programme’s offerings to provide more value to clients, advisors and participating cruise lines.This year Virtuoso Voyages will offer more than 375 sailings on luxury ocean liners and river and specialty cruises, with shore events in 87 ports in 46 countries. Virtuoso Voyages now features a level of customisation unique in the industry, with generous amenities worth up to $800 per couple. The programme provides bespoke options that include an exclusive shore event with a fine-dining experience, an in-port tour with a private car and driver, credit towards a private shore excursion, or a shipboard credit. A knowledgeable Virtuoso host accompanies each departure and welcomes network clients to two private onboard social events, including a new farewell reception that permits inspired clients to book their next cruise while still enjoying their current one.With 10 participating cruise lines, Virtuoso Voyages now enjoys the highest number of partners in the programme’s history. Four new lines added this year both address the enormous growth Virtuoso has reported in river and specialty cruising, while also complementing more traditional ocean cruising: Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Windstar Cruises. These new lines join the six existing participants: Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn and Silversea Cruises. The addition of AmaWaterways in 2017 will further augment Virtuoso Voyages river cruise offerings.“Advisors who really know our cruise enhancement programme and make the most of it are huge advocates,” said David Powers, Director, Cruise Programmes at Virtuoso. “Virtuoso decided to refresh the programme so that more advisors can leverage it as a key sales tool, while also allowing more clients to discover its value. After extensive conversations with our advisors and cruise suppliers, we’re delighted to launch Virtuoso Voyages and at the same time unveil its expansion and new features.”Another new element of the Virtuoso Voyages programme extends the overall experience through pre- and post-sailing packages in popular European ports. For shore excursions during the cruise, advisors can recommend handselected unique tours from Virtuoso partners. Virtuoso Voyages land additions are commissionable and capture more of the client spend for advisors.To further induce sales, Virtuoso will offer advisors enhanced training and tools on designated sailings and introduce a new Virtuoso Voyages Specialist designation to foster a community of excellence among participating advisors. Onboard hosts will have to complete training specific to the cruise line they’re sailing on. As well, the network has simplified client registration by housing all programme forms and information in, featuring a redesigned intuitive interface and simplified cruise search.Based on advisor demand, a Virtuoso Voyages sales directory will debut later this year. Both a client marketing tool and a reference guide, the directory will be published digitally for easy updating throughout the year with itinerary changes and other developments. As well, Virtuoso has released a video to further promote the programme and bring its advantages to life for clients.Virtuoso IncubatorAt the start of last year, the launch of the Virtuoso Incubator created quite a buzz. The idea of the Virtuoso Incubator was to attract and test new travel technology that can serve the network and the diverse needs of its members. Upchurch commented: “$5 billion a year is spent on new travel technology, but the vast majority of that is B2C. We wanted to champion technology that would assist agencies and advisors.”Virtuoso is unveiling the 12 emerging travel technology companies participating in its innovative Incubator programme for 2016. As the industry’s first formal programme to foster new technology, Virtuoso Incubator seeks out, refines, then introduces tools to enhance service levels, provide efficiencies and ultimately help its members maintain their competitive edge. More than 100 companies within the rapidly growing $5.2 billion travel technology space applied this year – twice the number of 2015 – causing Virtuoso to be highly selective in choosing which tech initiatives to nurture.“Virtuoso Incubator is focused on finding solutions that enhance advisor productivity and client service because the primary goal is to ensure our members remain the most competitive in the market,” said David Kolner, Senior Vice President, Global Member Partnerships at Virtuoso. “And when you consider that $190 million was funded into B2B technology startups in 2015 alone, our role becomes one of curation and cultivation. No single tech advancement can meet the needs of 11,400 advisors in 37 countries, and this programme allows Virtuoso to present our members with options so that they can choose the best solutions for their unique businesses.”This year’s participants are:Addo: A content marketing and communication management system designed to find, select and personalise content from travel suppliers.AlannaTech: A database management system that helps automate agency and advisor communication and marketing campaigns. This multilingual platform also enhances client knowledge to increase sales and trip personalisation.CheckMate: From before check-in through departure, CheckMate’s tools enable on-demand hospitality to have a two-way conversation between advisors and travellers through any means of communication – text, email or phone.Engage: An integrated chat and video communication tool that helps advisors sell immediately anywhere online on any device, and makes clients accessible to advisors anytime with one click.FITeXplorer: A bilingual English-Spanish productivity tool that creates complex itineraries and allows for easy changes to bookings within itineraries in real time. It provides seamless custom, global, and multi-destination itineraries in minutes.The Quest: An itinerary management tool that offers extensive supplier libraries and realtime updates so advisors can create and share itineraries. It syncs with ClientBase continuously, pushes content in PDFs and a smartphone app, reduces errors and saves time.Tandem Cruise Booking Engine: A B2B cruise booking tool that efficiently finds, compares, quotes, and books cruises from a single web-based system. Virtuoso is testing a customised version of this which includes unique features and content designed for its member agencies.Travefy: A collaboration platform for group travel, including money collection and custom itineraries. Advisors can invite travellers to a shared platform for discussions, polling and collaborative itinerary management.TripBAM: The only global hotel rate assurance solution that works with any GDS, can apply a cluster of hotels and shop for commission conversion opportunities. It helps lower hotel costs, increase commissions and improve compliance to negotiated programmes.TripChamp: A booking tool that allows advisors to see fares from their GDS as well as fares from other sources not available on the GDS, and access the marketplace on a zero markup basis to re-purpose and sell to clients.TripWing: An itinerary builder that allows advisors to easily generate professional materials including itineraries with just a click of a button, keeping clients updated.Yonderbound: The world’s first travel knowledge monetisation platform, where verified professional users create stories featuring hotels and activities that anyone can book, promoting advisor trips and contact information.Through its Incubator programme, Virtuoso is leading the charge in improving the customer experience by attracting technology solutions to the travel industry. Participating companies benefit from the participation and guidance of the group’s advisor-based Technology Committee, which tests the product, provides real-world feedback and allows the company to continue iterating its product to better meet the needs of travel agencies, advisors and clients. Three participants from the 2015 programme have become full Virtuoso partners: itinerary management solutions Umapped, TripScope and Axus.Go back to the e-newsletterlast_img

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