Following a year in which Virtuoso held a fully virtual Travel Week, the luxury travel network has brought its flagship event back to Las Vegas for a hybrid event. The 33rd annual Virtuoso Travel Week conference commenced Sunday before an audience of more than 3,300 of luxury travel professionals from 102 countries. Running August 8-13, the hybrid function will see nearly 1,500 in-person attendees at Bellagio Resort & Casino, ARIA Resort & Casino and Vdara Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas joined by over 1,800 remote participants for nearly 82,000 of one-to-one networking appointments, plus a full roster of professional development sessions by various presenters.
Virtuoso Week’s Opening Ceremony, themed “Imagine What Can Be,” was designed to engage and inspire all attendees with original poetry performed by Adán Bean. This year’s keynote speaker, Adam Grant, psychologist, author and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, brought insights on the power of rethinking, calling it, “a crucial skill not only for facing crises…but for navigating complex social issues, making good business decisions and more.”
Following was a presentation by Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch. While acknowledging that the pandemic has been especially devastating for those in the travel industry, his message was that advisors had the potential to serve more travelers, amplify the positive impact that travel can make worldwide, empower and uplift individual and communities and bring people together.
“Disruptions accelerate trends, whether to the upside or downside,” said Upchurch. “Despite this global pause in travel, two of the most powerful upside trends are completely in our favor. First, is the value of travel itself, because nothing motivates humans like taking something away that they took for granted. And the second is the value of a travel advisors. The heroic efforts of advisors during the pandemic only widened the gap with DIY.”
Upchurch also shared with the audience innovations that his organization has been working on throughout the year. Just this week, in fact, Virtuoso launched the integration of its website, Virtuoso.com, and its “travel dreaming” site Virtuoso Wanderlist. Virtuoso called this “a major milestone in combining travel inspiration with traveler engagement in the dreaming and planning process.” Since making Virtuoso.com content-forward in 2020, web traffic, pageviews and time on the site have grown significantly. Wanderlist, on the other hand, has exceeded $110 million in future travel demand, with 59 percent of list invitations sent by travelers accepted by their friends and family, making it an effective referral tool for Virtuoso travel advisors.
Professional development will play a key role this week. Both in-person and remote attendees will have access to Virtuoso Week’s training lineup from expert presenters. The content is also made available to registrants for a full month following the event. Programs include longer, selected appointments complementing the shorter, matched one-on-ones; Globetrotting programs that focus on Virtuoso’s Communities in cruise, adventure, wellness, culinary, ultra-luxe, and family and celebration travel; and a dedicated Cruise Café, plus partner lounges.