Virtuoso’s Successful Forum Shows Signs of Optimism for the Travel Industry

Luxury travel network Virtuoso announced its annual United States and Canada Forum brought together 350 in-person attendees and virtual live streams for another successful event.

The forum was held on January 26-28 at La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, and featured owners and managers from Virtuoso’s travel agency members and preferred partners for in-person networking and professional development.

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Virtuoso took advantage of agency executives feeling optimistic about 2022 by setting the stage for travel’s recovery and fostering the human connections needed to bolster sales and spirits, while emphasizing the power of partnerships.

The three-day event played host to more than 1,300 one-to-one networking appointments, numerous professional development courses and thought-provoking keynotes from expedition leader Alison Levine and author Ron Tite.

“At its core, Virtuoso is a community of businesses creating value together,” Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch said. “That value has culminated in our brand’s consumer recognition and led to the elevation of the travel advisor profession.”

“In a world of commoditization pressures, what enables us to succeed is combining the power of emotional intelligence and digital intelligence,” Upchurch continued. “We all work in service of the traveler, and the foundation we’ve built together enhances the connections we have with travelers, with our agencies and advisors, and with external partners that can add value to this ecosystem.”

Attendees indicated that advanced tour bookings are up by 35 percent compared to January 2020, while on-site bookings are up 20 percent. Virtuoso’s 2022 future cruise bookings are 103 percent of what they were for 2019, which was the travel industry’s most prosperous year.

During the event, Virtuoso polled its members and found 97 percent said they expect higher sales for 2022, with 36 percent anticipating sales to be 21-50 percent higher and 23 percent expecting sales to be more than 50 percent higher than 2021.

Another 38 percent of agencies said they were looking to hire independent contractors and 34 percent said they were bringing on management and support staff to help meet market demand.

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