Matthew Upchurch, chairman and CEO of Virtuoso // © 2012 Virtuoso
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There’s a new trend in luxury retail, and Virtuoso is paving the way with its newly rebranded Virtuoso Travel Week.
“What we were finding is that travel advisors were coming here to buy trips for their clients,” said Matthew Upchurch, chairman & CEO of Virtuoso. “So we rebranded Virtuoso Travel Mart into something a little more reflective of what we do.”
Where Virtuoso Travel Week differs from Virtuoso Travel Mart is that, now, clients are being brought into the conversation. This year’s conference included a “Collaboration Lounge” where travel advisors could connect their clients directly with suppliers via Skype or Apple’s FaceTime.
“We know that consumers like doing the research,” said Scott Ahlsmith, president of 23 Touchpoints, which is the technology arm of Virtuoso.
To that end, Virtuoso is rolling out “Travel Folio,” which will bring clients deeper into the travel planning process. Currently advisors can build travel recommendations which they can share with clients and suppliers. By next year, clients will be able to use the tool to create their own travel notes.
Ahlsmith noted that this will put the client in the driver’s seat, with the advisor watching over their shoulder.
“People like to engage in travel planning,” said Kristi Jones, Virtuoso president and CEO. “But very few of them are having fun doing it online because they can’t find what they are looking for. We are trying to change the orientation of the retail industry. Now, it’s becoming more of a team sport.”
This year, Virtuoso Travel Week welcomed some 4,000 attendees, including 1,843 travel advisors who held more than 350,000 individual meetings with luxury travel suppliers.