Luxury Sector Shows No Signs of Slowing: Virtuoso

If there’s one thing we learned at Virtuoso Travel Week, being held currently in Las Vegas at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa, it’s that luxury travel is showing no signs of slowing down.

During the Opening Ceremony and again during a travel trade press conference, Virtuoso Executive Vice President David Kolner shared industry insights and data from Virtuoso’s travel agency members and partners. In short, among the reasons to remain bullish is the fact that Virtuoso’s year-to-date global sales have surpassed those of 2022 for the same January-to-June timeframe by 37 percent and are up 56 percent over the “high-water mark” set in 2019. When only considering U.S.-based agencies, 2023's first half numbers top 2022 and 2019 by 36 and 69 percent, respectively.

David Kolner at Virtuoso Travel Week 2023
Virtuoso Executive Vice President David Kolner (Photo by Matt Turner)

In fact, nearly all segments of the industry are performing better than last year, except for air, which is at 94 percent of the total sales for the first half of the year. Cruise, destinations and experiences, hotels and services are all over 100 percent of last year’s numbers.

Looking forward, 2024-25 sales already up more than 107 percent over 2019 and 39 percent over 2022. As for cruise, sales for 2025 and 2025 are pacing 106 percent better than 2019 and 44 percent better than last year.

Globally, 87 percent of Virtuoso agencies remain very optimistic about their own businesses (88 percent of those in the United States reported so). New this year, Virtuoso asked about life-work balance and found that 79 percent of Virtuoso agencies are somewhat or extremely fulfilled, while preferred partners were just slightly lower at 76 percent. As far as those advisors who are feeling good about their business, 90 percent of full-time employees, 85 percent of independent contractors and 90 percent of owners and managers said so. Interestingly, 100 percent of administrative/operations employees said they were optimistic about their business.  

Another reason to get excited: According to data from the Credit Suisse World Wealth Report 2022, as shared by Virtuoso, the network’s target of ultra-high-net-worth clients (those with more than $1 million in liquid assets) is expected to grow by 16 million people (34 percent) across all markets by 2026. Similarly, as reported in the World Travel & Tourism Council’s “Travel & Tourism Economic Impact 2023,” travel and tourism’s forecasted total GDP contribution this year will be 9.2 percent of the global economy; in 2033 it will grow to 11.6 percent of the total GDP contribution, growing at a rate almost two times faster than the global economy over that 10-year span.

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