KarryOn News

It’s “G’day Melbourne” this week for 500 International and Australian Virtuoso Advisors who are in town for the groups’ annual four-day Symposium.

The Virtuoso Symposium, held in a different location each year, is taking place from 7-11 May, with functions spread across the city at Crown Towers, Park Hyatt and the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Center, plus special events at the Melbourne National Gallery and Melbourne Town Hall.

The annual Symposium is a gathering of 500 of the most influential decision-makers in premium travel and a chance for the group to network as well as take part in discussions on industry trends, challenges, and opportunities. Around 50 percent of the Symposium attendees will be travel agency owners or managers.

The last time the Symposium was held in Australia was in 2009 in Sydney. Back then, Virtuoso Advisors had only been around in Australia for five years since 2004 when the group began its presence here.

Cut to 2018, where Australia saw an 11% growth in Virtuoso agency locations versus 2017 with 1,452 Advisors (9.6% growth YOY) now making up the Australian Virtuoso collective.

Australian Virtuoso Advisor sales for 2018 reached AU$1.7B, which was an impressive 28% rise versus AU$1.3b in 2017.

With a global network of 20,000 Travel Advisors and 1,000 agency locations in 50 countries, Virtuoso surpassed $26.4b in annual sales in 2018, an 11% rise versus 2017.

Virtuoso CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch

Virtuoso CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch

Speaking at the event, Virtuoso CEO and Chairman, Matthew D. Upchurch said;

“Luxury travellers are in many ways a lot like backpackers these days, mostly because many used to be backpackers. They want to explore deeply, they want authentic experiences. They are the opinion leaders who influence their peers to desire similar experiences. It’s our job to join the dots for them because we love helping people enjoy the world”.

Mr Upchurch went on to highlight the value of Virtuoso Advisors in today’s world.

“One of my favourite quotes is from Warren Buffet, ‘Price is what you pay, value is what you get’. When it comes to Travel Advisors, it’s firstly about biology, not technology. It’s about connecting with our clients as human relationships and aligning with technology to make it happen.”

Indeed, one of the most critical pieces of intel from Virtuoso is that after researching the networks’ client spends the group found that on average, a Virtuoso Advisor client spends US$21,534 per annum, compared to US$12,230 with a non-advisor and only US$7,076 for a client who booked themselves.

David Hanson (Virtuoso) & Claudia Rossi (Mary Rossi Travel)

David Hanson (Virtuoso) & Claudia Rossi (Mary Rossi Travel)

Throughout the conference, the spotlight is on the host destination and its highly desirable luxury offerings. From day trips to the Mornington Peninsula to walking and tasting tours of the city including Queen Victoria Market to exclusive shopping excursions, attendees will experience the best of the area.

“Travellers at the top end of the market are looking for more than luxury, they are endeavouring their own tailored experiences, to explore and connect through genuine and exact interactions that make them feel like they’ve been absorbed into the local environment,”

Matthew D. Upchurch, Chairman and CEO of Virtuoso.

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan says the return of Virtuoso’s Symposium, this time to Melbourne, is highly significant and recognises the evolution of the Australia luxury offering.

“Over the past ten years or so, Australia’s offering for the high-end, luxury traveller has improved out of sight. Of course, Australia has always been a big country with spectacular and extraordinarily diverse natural environments and jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes. But we now have the luxury accommodation and experiences to match, giving our guests exclusivity of access to land, people, knowledge and place. This is really the essence of our unique style of Australian luxury. All delivered with that warm, uniquely Australian style of service that today’s discerning international traveller finds so appealing. 

John O'Sullivan, Tourism Australia CEO

John O’Sullivan, Tourism Australia CEO

“Having Virtuoso Symposium in Melbourne is a wonderful opportunity for us to share our evolving upscale  story and show this hugely influential group of travel decision-makers just how far Australia’s luxury tourism offering has come and why it will resonate so strongly with their clients.”

Tourism Australia Managing Director, John O’Sullivan

The Infamous Virtuoso Travel Week will take place in Las Vegas at the Bellagio from August 10 -16, 2019.


What do you think about Melbourne playing host to Virtuoso this year?