This travel group wants to turn your dreams into new experiences

Have you ever felt like the feedback you gave in those post-flight or post-stay surveys fell on deaf ears? That may no longer be the case, at least if you book your travels through a Virtuoso travel advisor. In fact, what you tell your advisor in your post-trip discharge could end up helping create the next adventure for you and possibly thousands of other travelers.

Matthew Upchurch, chairman of the luxury-focused travel agency network, said the group is using the personal relationships its advisers have with their customers and combining that with big data to understand where you want to go and what you want for future travels. .

Success could mean a 180-degree swing from how travel products are typically developed and marketed.

“Today, we mostly expect our partners to tell us what they have,” Upchurch said at a press conference during Virtuoso Travel Week, which is being held this week in Las Vegas.

“By engaging our travelers to tell us more about what they want, we can go out and get the trips, and that becomes exclusive content (for Virtuoso agencies to sell),” he predicted.

For example, based on customer feedback, Virtuoso can create its own customized Northern Lights viewing programs.

During a recent meeting in Vienna, Virtuoso executives were able to use data gathered from post-trip customer interviews with their advisors to show tourism officials the types of experiences customers were looking for if they visited the Austrian city.

Upchurch said the most essential part of the process is showing clients that advisers are listening and taking action. He said customers feel, “If I spend any time (giving feedback), what am I going to get back in value?”

The first new programs created by the initiative can be seen in the next two years.

According to recent research, Virtuozo customers will spend an average of $26,257 on travel this year. That’s up from $20,645 before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The number compares favorably with “non-advised” travelers, referred to as DIYers, for “Do it yourself”. DIYers’ annual travel spending fell to just $6,186 this year from $7,184 in 2019.

Top-tier advisors have long created personalized itineraries and experiences for clients on a one-stop basis or, alternatively, sold programs off the shelf.

The initiative aligns with Virtuoso’s strategy to offer products not available through other agency groups. It recently signed an exclusive partnership with Virgin Galactic, giving it 50 of the roughly 200 seats left to sell before the space travel operator closes future sales. The 90-minute flights cost $450,000 per seat.

David Kolner, an executive vice president of Virtuoso, said in a press conference that there is a strong opportunity for the network to grow. He cited figures from Knight Frank that predict the UHNW population will grow by 28% in the next five years.

Upchurch believes the new exclusive products will help increase his advisor cache. Describing the organization, he said: “We are the agent of Hollywood. The counselors are the stars.”

After Covid first brought travel to a standstill, and then a long and painful period of restrictions and lockdowns, agency Virtuozo’s revenue for future bookings is currently tracking 47% ahead of 2019’s record levels, according to Kolner.

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