Virtuoso recognized its highest-performing travel agency members at its 2023 Chairman’s Event, which took place October 23-27 in Taormina, Sicily. The Chairman’s Event demonstrates Virtuoso’s appreciation for its most engaged and dedicated members and this year brought together 124 agency owners and managers from 12 countries.
A highlight, however, was the research presented by Executive Vice President David Kolner. During a network sales update, he presented a sneak peek of travel trends among high-net-worth clientele, according to Virtuoso’s “2024 Luxe Report.” Notably, Virtuoso’s year-to-date sales in 2023 were up 25 percent compared to the same period last year, while Q4 2023 sales show a 32 percent increase over Q4 2022. Forward-looking data for sales into 2024 and 2025 showed that future bookings are up 36 percent compared to last year and 98 percent over 2019’s future sales leading into 2020, “proving” that luxury travel will continue to thrive in the coming years.
The location of the event—Italy—also proved to be intentional. According to Virtuoso data, Italy was among the most-booked destinations for fall, showing that travelers are exploring the destination outside of the usual summer season to enjoy cooler weather, lower prices and fewer crowds. Though already a favorite destination among affluent travelers, forward-looking data shows that travel demand to Italy shows no signs of slowing down into 2024. This year’s Virtuoso “Luxe Report,” a survey of over 2,000 of the network’s advisors, saw it ranked as the No. 1 destination for travelers across the globe.
As for the event, the festivities kicked off with an evening reception at shoreside Villa Sant’Andrea, a Belmond Hotel’s Ristorante Sant'Andrea. Business commenced the following morning at San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel, where attendees networked, exchanged thoughts and ideas on the future of luxury travel and heard from Virtuoso executives on key topics.
Attendees were also treated to a variety of experiences of their choosing, all of which were designed by Virtuoso’s on-site partners: Essence of Sicily, IC Bellagio, I.D.I. Travel Italy and Sicily Lifestyle. Options included exploring Mount Etna coupled with cheese and wine tastings; a walking tour with a visit to the private home of a local artist; a Sicilian cooking class; a guided tour of Catania City Center with lunch at a historical palace; a half-day private yacht experience; or a driving tour in privately-owned vintage cars.
Guests dined, danced and took in live performances of traditional dance, music and Opera during dinners and after-parties at Grand Hotel Timeo, a Belmond Hotel and San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel. All attendees also enjoyed a private pre-dinner trio performance held at Teatro Antico di Taormina as the sun set. A highlight was the traditional Sicilian fiesta in the tiny medieval village of Castelmola, set high above Taormina, where local residents opened their doors exclusively for a private evening of Sicilian food, music and dancing in the village square.
For 2024, Virtuoso’s Chairman’s Event will see the network’s top performers heading to Slovenia.