Virtuoso Travel Week Attracts Record Number of Luxury Travel Pros
By James Shillinglaw
August 12, 2013 1:22 PM
Virtuoso, the luxury travel network, opened its 25th annual Virtuoso Travel Week, Aug. 10-16, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas with record attendance and a theme “The Next 25.” The event, which was renamed last year from Virtuoso Travel Mart to Virtuoso Travel Week, has attracted more than 4,000 attendees, including 1,927 travel advisors, 1,818 preferred suppliers, and numerous guests and members of the media. That’s a far cry from the 98 who gathered at the Brazilian Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., for the first Virtuoso meeting in 1989 when the group was known as API Travel Consultants.
Virtuoso travel advisors will engage in 96 one-on-one meetings a day with their preferred suppliers for the first four days of the week. Every advisor has the opportunity to individually meet every supplier in a relationship building exercise that has become the hallmark of Virtuoso Travel Week. “Similar to what takes place at Fashion Week, this event allows our advisors to build key relationships, stay abreast of trends and ultimately ‘buy’ on behalf of their clients,” said Matthew Upchurch, CTC, Virtuoso’s chairman and CEO. “Not only does it result in better experiences and, by extension, happier clients, it also drives increased sales.” Upchurch also said advisors who attend Virtuoso Travel Week will sell an average of $250,000 more annually than those who do not, which he equated to $450 million more in annual sales for attendees.
At Virtuoso Travel Week’s opening session on Aug. 11, Upchurch delivered a retrospective of how far Virtuoso has come in the last 25 years and what it is planning for the future, including a new consumer interface using the Virtuoso.com website, which will now serve as a portal for Virtuoso travel advisors, preferred suppliers, and current and potential travel customers. He was joined by three keynote speakers who had previously addressed Virtuoso Travel Week events, including Simon Sinek, author of “Start with Why,” who first spoke in 2010; Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D, Age Wave president and CEO, who spoke to Virtuoso in 2006; and Lee Brower of Empowered Wealth, LLC, who for more than 12 years has also served as an entrepreneurial coach for Strategic Coach Inc.
A surprise guest at the opening session was magician David Copperfield, who is also effectively a Virtuoso preferred supplier as owner of Musha Cay, the exclusive island resort in the Bahamas. In an interview with Upchurch, Copperfield detailed how he had turned to luxury travel advisors and other travel professionals for advice on how to develop his high-end resort. Not to disappoint the crowd, he also performed one of his signature illusions on stage. The surprise guest echoed last year’s event, where film director Francis Ford Coppola appeared to talk about his movie career and his own high-end resorts in Belize.