Benefits of a Virtuoso travel advisor: Matthew Upchurch on Zambezi River in Zimbabwe with elephants
Virtuoso Chairman & CEO Matthew Upchurch enjoys a trip to Zimbabwe, arranged by his Virtuoso travel advisor

Some may see booking trips with a travel advisor as old-fashioned. Not Matthew Upchurch.

Upchurch is the chairman and CEO of Virtuoso, and his passion for working with travel advisors came through strongly in a New York Times profile.

The Benefits of a Virtuoso Travel Advisor

“Your most valuable asset is your leisure time, and once it’s lost, there’s no making it back,” Upchurch told the publication. “Why would you trust that to chance by booking online? Because as we all know, with travel it’s not about if something will go wrong, it’s when. Working with a knowledgeable adviser gets you advice, creativity and advocacy; those things are hard to come by online.”

Upchurch spends more than 200 days a year on the road. In just the first six weeks of 2015 he traveled to more than 12 cities around the globe, including Orlando, Florida; Auckland, New Zealand; Rio de Janeiro; and Los Angeles. So he knows the benefits of a Virtuoso travel advisor firsthand.

The Modern Travel Advisor

Value of a Virtuoso travel advisor: room at Bellagio in Las Vegas
A Virtuoso travel advisor can secure clients better value for luxury rooms (like this one at Las Vegas’ Bellagio)

Upchurch told the New York Times that today’s travel advisors have benefited from technological advances like social media and mobility. “Advisers are no longer tied to a desk; they’re out traveling,” he commented. “They’re exploring the world and posting it on social media and enhancing their own credibility by actually being out there. And because of mobility, they have the ability to help their clients whenever they need.”

Another difference: many Virtuoso travel advisors today charge planning fees. Those generally range from $100 to $250. But the total value clients receive is more than worth the price. Upchurch offered an example: “A client finds a “great” weekend rate at a luxury casino hotel in Vegas and books it. They then see that it’s a Virtuoso property and call their adviser to ask if they can beat the price. They cannot, but the adviser’s Virtuoso rate is only $15 more per night and includes daily breakfast, $100 resort credit and an upgrade at time of arrival. So while the client could have saved $45 on the “price,” the value they receive from their adviser is much greater.”

Upchurch’s Travel Highlights and Tips

One of the greatest gifts a Virtuoso travel advisor can give clients is lifelong memories. Upcburch has many, and shared some with the New York Times. His favorite destination? Africa.

Value of a Virtuoso travel advisor: leopard in Botswana
Africa’s nature and animals are big draws for Upchurch when he visits his favorite destination

“It’s a place that touches your soul and stays with you. My father owned safari lodges in Botswana when I was growing up so I used to and still go frequently, not only there but also to other countries including Kenya and Tanzania. The nature and animals are magnificent as you would expect, but so are the smiles of the people.”

Upchurch is a strong supporter of travel with children. It’s a way to give kids “global citizenship” through priceless experiences. His most beloved experiences are those he’s shared with his family. One example: “celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with them this past November at the Kempinski Adlon Hotel as the “wall of balloons” came down, and my children experienced a piece of history they will remember for a lifetime.”

Upchurch’s best travel tip: “If you can, carry on or ship your bags. You will not believe the freedom you feel not waiting alongside a baggage carousel.”

How You Can Find a Virtuoso Travel Advisor

Upchurch says there’s nothing like the human touch. He encourages travelers to find a Virtuoso travel advisor that’s a good fit and develop a relationship. To find that person you can rely on to create and manage your trip, visit One of Virtuoso’s more than 9,000 luxury travel advisors in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia-Pacific will be a great fit for designing your future travels.