By David Kolner, senior vice president, global member partnerships, Virtuoso
I’m lucky to work with the more than 770 Virtuoso travel agencies and 15,200 advisors around the world on a daily basis. What I’ve learned by working with these travel pros is that they do so much more than merely book travel -– it’s one of the reasons we call them travel advisors, not just travel agents.
For instance, a friend recently asked me about getting tickets for Wimbledon. I quickly searched Virtuoso’s products and connections and found loads of options: packages, special promotions, and access to the absolute best tickets. I said what I often say to friends and family: Call your travel advisor.
I started thinking about everything Virtuoso advisors can do for clients and came up with this list: seven services you never knew your Virtuoso travel advisor provided.
For sports, concerts, performances, the arts, or just about anything that involves a door and a ticket taker, your Virtuoso advisor should be one of your first points of contact. Virtuoso maintains relationships with more than 1,500 partners around the world – your advisor is your gateway to these (sometimes secret) sources. Virtuoso also has connections with several ticket brokers who work directly with the event producers themselves – we’re talking major events like the Kentucky Derby, the World Cup, or the Olympics. These tickets often come with exclusive experiences that you can’t buy, such as visiting the stables before the horse race, or going on the field after the game to meet the athletes. Event tickets may also be paired with hotel accommodations, saving the hassle of trying to find a room in a sold-out big city.
Shopping may be a love-it-or-hate it proposition for travelers (I think of the “husband day-care center” signs popping up in front of local pubs in major shopping areas around the world), but Virtuoso offers exclusive shopping benefits to clients, like personal shoppers, and private tax-refund services – a big money saver and asset if you’re indulging in a favorable exchange rate around the world.
I personally experienced the service in Paris. I entered one of the world’s largest department stores, Galeries Lafayette, via a secret entrance and checked in at a private Virtuoso desk. You are whisked away to a private rooftop salon where a personal shopper has already curated options based on your size and preferences, all with a glass of champagne and a private concierge at your disposal. Only a Virtuoso advisor can craft this experience for you – in Paris, and all over the world.
Activities and Experiences.
Virtuoso advisors offer access and reliability to activities and experiences, much more than online options, working every day with trusted travel partners around the world. These partners in more than 100 countries are well connected. They attend restaurant, play, and gallery openings before they are public. For reliability, Virtuoso only works with proven partners used by more than 15,000 advisors around the world; that’s not just buying power, that’s constant checking for service quality on a daily basis. Consider my own experience on a hot air balloon ride with my family abroad: I wanted breathtaking views over the ancient ruins at sunrise; not fear of safety, insurance, or the viability of the company taking us up in the air in a wicker basket.
Visas and Insurance.
A Virtuoso advisor can help smooth the way for these tricky services, working with proven partners to make sure your paperwork is completed on time and correctly – you don’t want to leave this to someone you found on a Google search. And while attitudes about buying insurance for your trip vary (Americans are notoriously, and sometimes unfortunately, insurance-phobic), your Virtuoso advisor works with established companies who provide quality, protection, and value for yourself and your vacation. Figuring out the right insurance package isn’t easy, your advisor is well-versed in myriad options and prices.
Yes, it’s real, and entirely possible. Your Virtuoso advisor can arrange to have your bags collected at home a day or so before your departure, then ship it straight to your destination. Imagine breezing through airport check-in, not waiting at the carousel or customs for your bags, and arriving at your hotel where your bags await in your room. This white-glove service is available in over 130 countries around the world.
It’s all about the details, and Virtuoso recently partnered with a new company that connects travelers with local hosts to experience all things culinary: cooking classes, food tours, and even dinner in a local’s home. Other partners provide chef-led excursions to markets where you can shop and then return to the hotel to cook a delicious meal. Finally, don’t forget that your Virtuoso advisor is well-traveled, and likely has a list of favorite recommendations in major cities around the world.
“Please Bother Me.”
I hear this from Virtuoso advisors around the world: – They want to help you with all of your travel – your big dream trips and annual vacations, but also your quick getaways. Clients often think their advisor is too busy to bother with “just” a weekend getaway to a nearby resort or city, but your advisor is standing by and has a new way to work with you – I call it the “Please bother me” service for advisors. A new hotel booking tool is available 24/7, where you can quickly check rates and availability at trusted Virtuoso hotels and resorts around the world. Once you find the hotel and room you prefer, it’s a few simple clicks to send the request to your advisor; if you don’t already have an advisor, we can match you up with one seamlessly. Working with an advisor for even simple trips at virtuoso.com carries many benefits: You’ll receive Virtuoso amenities valued at hundreds of dollars per trip that you can’t get online, and you’ll have the support and backup of a travel advisor should anything go wrong (or just to double check your own selections).
On behalf of the more than 15,200 Virtuoso advisors in 45 countries on six continents around the world serving millions of discerning travelers just like you: Please bother us – we really do want to help you with every aspect of your travels.