micato2Celebrating its sixth year honoring select members through its Chairman’s Recognition Event, Virtuoso 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.