Some 4,420 leisure travel industry professionals from 92 countries across the globe descended upon the Bellagio Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas for the 26th annual Virtuoso Travel Week, setting a record number of attendees. Over 1,500 of these were first-time attendees, another testament to Virtuoso Travel Week’s growth and industry influence. The event, billed as the travel industry equivalent of Fashion Week, unites the Virtuoso travel family’s wide array of travel specialists, chateaux owners, hoteliers, resort owners, cruise providers, tour companies, airlines, and much more.
I sat down with Travel and Transport’s Michelle Holmes, General Manager; Heather Caughlin, Regional Manager; and Trevor Fleming, Business Development Manager, to discover the event’s most impacting moments and most striking takeaways.
Connecting with Colleagues from Across the Globe
Michelle described Virtuoso Travel Week as the largest travel family reunion, giving travel specialists the unique opportunity to connect with hoteliers or other providers who have hosted their clients. It’s also a time for professional development, with seminars about everything from customer loyalty to social media to communication. And since Virtuoso members are a team, these like-minded professionals can feel comfortable sharing knowledge, expertise and new ideas.
Impressive Travel Inspiration
Virtuoso Week is an opportunity for extreme networking! The event boasted a marathon of four-minute interviews, kind of like speed dating for travel specialists. These interviews provided a quick glimpse into a wealth of new, exciting destinations, properties and experiences, motivating travel specialists to push boundaries in their work. A handful of unique properties stood out to our specialists, some of them part of Virtuoso’s Best of the Best list, including:
- Fogo Island Inn, on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, offers stunning architectural design against the backdrop of gorgeous, rocky coastline and long-standing local traditions. Each room has a quilt in it that was made by the local quilters of Fogo Island.
- Museum Hotel, literally built into an ancient mountainside in Cappadocia, Turkey, offers 30 totally unique suites, some of which are “cave rooms” while others are more traditional, restored rooms. A few rooms also have wine taps built into the wall, providing red and white wine from local vineyards.
- Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, which won the Most Innovative Guest Experience Award at Virtuoso Travel Week, is located about an hour from Abu Dhabi in the midst of the Liwa Desert. Guests can go “land sailing” (sailing on a go-kart through the desert, powered by wind) take a desert safari or ride camels.
- Necker Island, Sir Richard Bronson’s private island and home, is located in the British Virgin Islands. The island boasts 74 acres with pristine reefs and beaches, as well as 200 flamingos.
Building a Network of Millennial Travel Specialists
Virtuoso is creating partnerships with colleges to build awareness among recent graduates about the travel industry; many college students attended and were amazed at the fascinating career opportunities. Virtuoso Travel Week included a seminar called “Millenials in Travel”, which was attended by 200 next generation specialists.
Five days later our travel specialists returned home, excited to bring these new ideas to life. These are just some of the many ways Virtuoso agencies like Travel and Transport are “enriching lives through human connection.”