Archive for category In the News
Virtuoso provides the perfect antidote to the winter doldrums by hosting its first-ever European Virtual Travel Show on Wednesday, February 1, from 1pm-9pm EST. Attendees have a rare opportunity to mingle online with 47 of the world’s best European travel companies and Virtuoso’s travel advisors – all one needs to plan the perfect European getaway. Highlighted destinations include scenic countries such as Austria and Norway, as well as vibrant cities like Barcelona and Madrid, all of which serve as sought-after locales for families, honeymooners, singles, baby boomers and business travelers alike. Exclusive travel incentives revealed during the show will include promotions for private guides, hotel upgrades, gift cards, prepaid shipboard gratuities and special savings. Additionally, Virtual Travel Show guests are eligible to win gift cards and vouchers valued up to $500 for select cruise sailings and from participating travel providers.
Virtuoso’s European Virtual Travel Show allows attendees to access invaluable travel information from the convenience of their own homes or anywhere they have Internet connectivity. Would-be travelers have the opportunity to visit online exhibits and engage in question-and-answer sessions with upscale cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, on-site ground operators, airlines, specialty travel providers and the tourism boards representing these prime locations.
“Whether new to the Virtuoso network or an established client, consumers will find value in the information exchange with some of Europe’s most renowned travel companies, as well as access to some of the best travel advisors in the industry,” says Kristi Jones, President and COO of Virtuoso. “What separates this experience from a typical web search is that it’s interactive rather than one-sided. Everything has been vetted by Virtuoso; there’s no clutter of unwanted material or concern that a product has been misrepresented. Participants will come away from it better informed and inspired to see the world.”
The specifics for Virtuoso’s European Virtual Travel Show:
- The show will take place on Wednesday, February 1, 2012, from 1:00 p.m. – 9:00p.m. EST / 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. PST.
- Attendees are asked to register in advance at www.virtuoso.com. Virtuoso is currently waiving the registration fee. Attendees will be eligible for cash cards, prizes, travel vouchers and exclusive offers.
- Exclusive offers and promotions for European travel are available via Virtuoso’s online Europe Destination Guide at www.virtuoso.com.
- Technical requirements include a computer with internet access. High-speed Internet (Cable, DSL, Network) and computers running Windows PC with Internet Explorer 6.0 minimum or Firefox x 3.6, or a Mac with Firefox 3.6 or Safari 4.x or higher, will provide the best quality. The basic functionality is similar to visiting any website and playing a video with sound. No need for a phone, as sound will play through the computer.
Although the live interaction portion of the show takes place on February 1 only, consumers can access all special promotions and information on any of the participating travel providers throughout the month of February. For more information, visit www.virtuoso.com.
The Virtuoso travel network received nationwide exposure today when CEO Matthew Upchurch appeared on NBC’s TODAY show, which averages more than 7 million viewers.
Matthew was interviewed by the TODAY show’s Ann Curry for a segment titled “When to Use a Travel Agent.” If you missed Matthew discussing the value of travel advisors, or want to see his interview again, you can watch the segment on NBC’s website:
Find out more about Virtuoso here.
What do Jordan, Laos, Ireland and the Republic of Congo have in common? They are just a few of Virtuoso’s picks for must-see spots in 2012.
Virtuoso Public Relations Director Misty Ewing promoted the destinations in a Jan. 3 interview on Fox News.
“Where should we be dreaming about?” Ewing asked viewers of the segment in promoting “unexpected and unusual destinations.” She promoted the following:
- Jordan for its stability and convenience, as it’s easy to travel around.
- Republic of Congo for its gorilla trekking, where visitors can get as close as 20 feet from 11 different species of primates
- European river cruising, because visitors can pay up front in their local currency to avoid fluctuations, and everything is included
- Ireland as a way to experience the UK during the Olympics year in London
- Thailand and Laos for their gorgeous sights and warm, welcoming people
Watch the complete interview:
To see more coverage of Virtuoso’s picks for must-visit destinations and suppliers who can provide luxury experiences in those locations, click here.
Virtuoso was recently named 2011 Consortia Partner of the Year by Norwegian Cruise Lines. Virtuoso was one of seven travel partners honored by NCL for their successful relationship this year.
“I was particularly delighted to accept this award recognizing Virtuoso’s close partnership with NCL,” commented Bill Smith, vice president, cruise sales and performance management at Virtuoso. The line really values the contributions that our professional travel advisors make to its sales. Our members respond to NCL’s evolving product and see the benefits of offering it as a vacation choice to their more discerning clients.”
In 2011, NCL introduced Partners First, a corporate philosophy that puts travel partners first. “The success of Norwegian Cruise Line relies on the support of our travel partners. We highly value our agency partners, recognize their achievements and appreciate their hard work and dedication to our brand,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and chief executive officer. “We continue to look for new ways to enhance this commitment in order to continuously strengthen Norwegian’s relationship with our travel partners.”
To learn more about the award-winning travel experiences that you can get with the help of a Virtuoso travel advisor, click here.
Fledgling space line Virgin Galactic held a dedication ceremony for their newly completed Terminal Hangar Facility, which has been aptly named Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space. Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant at Spaceport America located in Southern New Mexico.
Looking skyward, more than 800 guests marveled at Virgin Galactic’s commercial space vehicles as they soared through the skies of southern New Mexico during the dedication ceremonies of Virgin Galactic’s new home at Spaceport America. The flight of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo was the highlight of a spectacular ceremony which featured the dedication of the Sir Norman Foster-designed building and announcements of new scientific and educational initiatives for the world’s first commercial space line.
Virtuoso’s Accredited Space Agents were on hand to witness history alongside hundreds of guests that included their Virgin Galactic Future Astronauts (those already booked on a future flight), dignitaries and members of the international media.
The Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, a combined terminal and hangar facility, will support up to two WhiteKnightTwo and five SpaceShipTwo vehicles. In addition, The Gateway will house all of the company’s astronaut preparation and celebration facilities, a mission control center, and a friends and family area. There is also space committed to public access via the planned New Mexico Spaceport Authority’s Visitor Experience.
Contact a Virtuoso Travel Advisor to find out how you can begin your journey to space now.
To learn more about Virtuoso’s exclusive Virgin Galactic program, click here.
Need a Travel Advisor? Click here.
NBC is warning travelers that what they get when they book online may not be what they expected. An investigation that aired last month on the TODAY Show found that some hotels, resorts and restaurants mislead travelers with online photos, descriptions and reviews. Properties around the world are writing fake customer reviews and posting misleading photos on travel websites with the goal of enticing customers to spend thousands on “dream” vacations.
The NBC story featured travelers who booked their own trips online and were shocked to see what they purchased when they arrived at their destination. To watch the story, please click here.
While NBC doesn’t specifically call out the expertise of travel advisors, their story does make a solid case for booking your travel through a professional advisor. The message is clear: to avoid a travel disaster, leave the details to the experts. Virtuoso Advisors have the connections to ensure you get exactly what you anticipate from your dream vacation.
If you don’t already have a Virtuoso travel advisor working for you, find one here.
Romance was in the air at CBS News’ The Early Show as the morning news program launched its “Honeymoon: Take 2” series last week, just in time for Valentine’s Day. Four couples vied for a second chance at the honeymoon that eluded them the first time around. Producers of the show turned to leading luxury travel network, Virtuoso®, to provide the dream honeymoon – five nights in David Copperfield’s Exclusive Private-Island Paradise, Musha Cay and The Islands of Copperfield Bay, secluded in the Exumas, Bahamas.
On Friday, February 18, Louisiana couple Amber and Nick Nunn ultimately beat out stiff competition from the other three couples, and now find themselves heading off for the ultimate honeymoon experience.
Known for its ability to “wow” travelers, both through the superlative service of its elite travel agency members and the privileged access the network can provide, Virtuoso pulled out all the stops for this honeymoon experience. As the winning couple, Amber and Nick will spend six days having their every whim indulged at Musha Cay by their own private chef and an attentive staff of 30, just for them alone. With 11 private islands, 40 private sugar-sand beaches and five different accommodations, ranging from beach house to villa, Musha Cay will ensure utter relaxation and post-matrimonial bliss.
For more information on creating once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon experiences, either for the first time or second, find a Virtuoso travel advisor.
To see Virtuoso’s latest video content, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/VirtuosoTraveler.
The year of 2011 may mark the end of the “staycation” as travelers once again embrace the opportunity to explore the world. Advisors from luxury travel network Virtuoso® say their clientele increased travel purchases by 36 percent from 2009 to 2010, with luxury international leisure trips being the dominant choice. More than 90 percent of Virtuoso’s elite travel agency membership lent their insight to the 2011 Virtuoso Luxe Report, which tracks trends in travel destinations, comparisons to travel in 2010, and above all, forecasts the travel decisions and motivating factors of some of the most upscale travelers in the United States and Canada.
This year’s report shows international travel is slated to be the most popular type of trip in 2011, with 57 percent of respondents reporting clients reserving international trips of eight days or longer. To where will these international travelers be venturing? Italy, France and South Africa nabbed the three most popular international destinations for travelers in 2011, followed by Australia and Mexico. Vietnam took the front-running spot as the most popular emerging destination – a position previously occupied by India, which instead became the second most popular emerging destination; followed by China, the Galapagos Islands and Morocco.
For families traveling in 2011, Europe is also in position to be the most popular destination to tote family and loved ones, continuing to support data that international travel is on the rise. Italy and England were ranked the two most popular family travel destinations for this year. Also included were sunny trips to Hawaii and Costa Rica, followed by a northern trip to Alaska.
Interestingly, the survey reported that family and multi-generational travel is the biggest emerging travel trend for 2011. Additionally, the survey found that more and more travelers are including infants and toddlers in their trip planning. Of those booking travel, the top three motives influencing travel choices included: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations; rest and relaxation; and spending time or reconnecting with loved ones – further supporting the increase of family travel.
The Luxe Report also affirms the value that high-end travelers place on working with a professional travel advisor. When booking vacations, the Virtuoso survey found that the largest influences on consumers’ travel decisions are their travel consultant’s advice, word of mouth and travel publications. In this era of on-line marginalization, experience, knowledge and personalized service still emerge as the very things travelers value.
“The Luxe Report findings offer great insight into the mindset of the upscale traveler and predict the trends in luxury-focused, leisure travel for 2011,” said Virtuoso CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch. “A strong return to international travel indicates a certain level of economic recovery, as does the increase in families traveling together. There is no better way to strengthen personal relationships and family ties than by creating memorable experiences together. A family vacation affords the perfect opportunity to discover a new destination and create bonds that will carry through generations.”
Advisors from Virtuoso member travel agencies were invited to take the survey in December 2010 and January 2011. Results were tabulated from more than 250 responses from the United States and Canada.
To read more about the key findings from the 2011 Virtuoso Luxe Report, click here: http://www.virtuoso.com/thecompany/luxereport2011
Click here to learn more about Virtuoso.
Celebrating its sixth year honoring select members through its Chairman’s Recognition Event, Virtuoso® luxury travel network welcomed 120 travel agency owners/managers and guests from nine countries to the annual gathering last week in Kenya. Hosted by Micato Safaris, with supporting sponsorship from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, &Beyond, the Kenya Tourist Board, Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, these top revenue-producing agencies were provided with an up-close-and-personal experience in one of the world’s preeminent safari destinations, while being immersed in the local culture and educating themselves how travel can help benefit inhabitants of this diverse country.
“Chairman’s Recognition Event has become a very valuable time for Virtuoso Member owners and our senior team to come together,” says Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, CEO of Virtuoso. “It enables us to build stronger bonds amongst ourselves, to understand the trends and challenges we face together, and to experience incredible destinations around the world.”
With a schedule of events befitting of the world’s top travel agencies, the group traveled to Kenya from October 22-29, 2010. During their time, they enjoyed a special itinerary that included morning, afternoon and night game drives, bush walks, lectures with Maasai Elders and hot-air balloon rides in the Maasai Mara; as well as helicopter trips, horseback riding and other activities at Mount Kenya Safari Club.
On the first full day of the event, United States Ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, hosted participants at his personal residence in Nairobi for a special lunch honoring The Pinto family, Virtuoso and Micato Safaris’ non-profit work within Kenya. In his remarks to attendees, Ambassador Ranneberger commented: “When visitors come to Kenya, their experience is in the hands of tour agents like many of you here today. They rely on you to craft a unique experience for them, experiences that will create memories that will last a lifetime. In turn, you rely on companies like Micato to consistently deliver the quality tourism experiences that your clients deserve. Yours is an important partnership.”
On the final day of the trip, participants personally experienced how travelers can truly make a difference when visiting East Africa. The group visited the numerous projects of Micato’s non-profit program, AmericaShare, located in the Mukuru slum on the outskirts of Nairobi. These projects, centered on community outreach, economic empowerment and education, are committed to improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable women and children living there – many of them victims of the AIDS pandemic. Many Virtuoso travel advisors met with the African children they are putting through boarding school through AmericaShare’s School Sponsorship Programme and everyone learned about Micato’s innovative new One for One Commitment, which sends an impoverished child to the local government school for every safari sold. In total, 68 individuals associated with Virtuoso – Members, Preferred Suppliers and Virtuoso staff – sponsor 78 children through AmericaShare.
The invited agencies from across the globe collectively represent 57% of Virtuoso’s $5.1 billion annual network sales. With more than 6,000 travel specialists associated with over 300 agencies in 22 countries within the organization in total, this elite group represents the very best travel advocates in the industry. Virtuoso selects its Chairman’s Recognition participants based on top production in the following categories:
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales per agency
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales per agent
- Highest Virtuoso preferred supplier sales growth per agency
Photos provided by Micato Safaris.
For more information, please visit www.virtuoso.com.
Virtuoso®, the world’s leading luxury travel network, is pleased to welcome the Armani Hotel Dubai into Virtuoso Preview, a program showcasing the most anticipated hotels and resorts that have just opened their doors or will be opening within the year. As the first hotel in the Middle East to participate in this prestigious program, the Armani Hotel Dubai joins an elite group of world-class properties that have turned to Virtuoso to increase visibility and add a competitive edge to their sales and marketing initiatives.
“For the launch of Armani’s first hotel, we knew relationships with Virtuoso and its members were key to driving success during our first year,” said Oliver Key, general manager, Armani Hotel Dubai. “Virtuoso’s worldwide network shares our commitment to delivering an unparalleled customer experience, and this well-matched relationship brings a great benefit to our hotel. Virtuoso is the only company with the reputation and ability to bring the Armani Hotel Dubai to the attention of those who will truly appreciate it for what it is; a splendor of the Armani lifestyle.”
“We are pleased to have Armani Hotel Dubai as part of the Preview program,” said Albert Herrera, vice president of hotels, destinations and tours at Virtuoso. “Virtuoso takes pride in its affiliations with the most respected brands and companies. Giorgio Armani has taken great strides to make his first hotel a dazzling place to experience. With a strategy that is unique and aligns with our own, the hotel will collaborate with our members to create customized experiences rather than offering prefabricated packages, providing our clients with memorable experiences and not just another hotel stay.”
On April 27, 2010, the Armani Hotel Dubai opened its doors to acclaim for the hotel’s design, luxurious amenities and unique location inside the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Every detail of the hotel was personally chosen by Giorgio Armani to reflect his passion for stylish comfort and elegance. Sophisticated colors, clean lines and unique textures blend together seamlessly with the tower’s stunning architecture and natural light to create an atmosphere of calm serenity where guests can feel at ease. In addition to the beautiful décor, the hotel also offers guests an elegant spa and eight food and beverage options.
Click here to learn more about Virtuoso.