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Virtuoso recognises highest-performing travel agencies at 2023 Chairman’s Event

Global luxury travel network Virtuoso have recognised the group’s highest-performing travel agency members at its 2023 Chairman’s Event in Taormina, Sicily.

Global luxury travel network Virtuoso have recognised the group’s highest-performing travel agency members at its 2023 Chairman’s Event in Taormina, Sicily.

Hosted between 23-27 October, the annual event is held in a different location each year.  The 2023 group in Taormina were treated to a surprise town parade to welcome Virtuoso attendees. 

Recognising its most engaged and dedicated members, this year’s event bought together 124 agency owners and managers from 12 countries for a four-day destination immersion.

The event began with an evening reception at the shoreside Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea’s Oliviero Restaurant and Beach Bar. Business sessions commenced the following morning at Four Seasons’ San Domenico Palace, where attendees networked, exchanged thoughts on the future of luxury travel, and heard from executives on key topics.

L-R: Filippo Curinga, IDI Travel; Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso Aust/NZ; Andrea Grisdale, IC Bellagio at the Virtuoso Chairman's Event in Sicily.
L-R: Filippo Curinga, IDI Travel; Fiona Dalton, Virtuoso Aust/NZ; Andrea Grisdale, IC Bellagio at the Virtuoso Chairman’s Event in Sicily.

Fiona Dalton, General Manager Australia and New Zealand was in attendance, joining Executive Vice President David Kolner, who presented a sneak peek of travel trends among high-net-worth clientele according to Virtuoso’s 2024 Luxe Report, as well as a network sales update. He revealed that the group’s year-to-date sales in 2023 were up 25 per cent compared to the same time period last year, while Q4 2023 sales show a 32 pe rcent increase over Q4 2022. 

Forward-looking data for sales into 2024 and 2025 revealed that future bookings are up 36 per cent compared to last year, and 98 per cent over 2019’s future sales leading into 2020. 

Senior Vice President, Global Operations Michael Londregan moderated a panel with four on-site partners – Essence of Sicily, IC Bellagio, I.D.I. Travel Italy and Sicily Lifestyle.

The Virtuoso group at Castelmola.
The Virtuoso group at Castelmola

Guests could indulge in a variety of immersive experiences of their choosing, all curated by the four on-site partners. While some headed off to explore Mount Etna coupled with cheese and wine tastings, others headed off on a walking tour with a visit to the private home of a local artist, a half-day private yacht experience, or a driving tour in privately-owned vintage cars.

“Our Chairman’s Event is a celebration of the Virtuoso members that have demonstrated their exceptional support of this network, so our goal each year is to showcase a host city in a way that both educates and excites the group,” said Matthew D. Upchurch, Virtuoso’s Chairman and CEO. 

“Italy is one of this network’s most important destinations…bringing our top performers to experience the splendour of Taormina, Sicily, was a fun and intimate way to provide them with a stellar travel experience that they can share with their teams as well as clientele,” said Upchurch. 

Destination and timing

Virtuoso Chairman's Event 2023
At the 2023 Chairman’s Event, L-R: Sally Goldwasser, Unique Travel of Palm Beach; local resident; Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso; Valerie Wilson, Valerie Wilson Travel.

Virtuoso hosted the group in Italy during the off-peak shoulder season: a time that is becoming increasingly more popular with luxury travellers. According to the network’s data, Italy was among the most-booked destinations for spring, showing that travellers are exploring the destination outside of the usual peak summer season to enjoy cooler weather, lower prices and fewer crowds.

Forward-looking data proves that travel demand to Italy shows no signs of slowing down into 2024. This year’s Virtuoso Luxe Report, resulting from a survey of more than 2,000 of the network’s advisors, saw it ranked as the number one destination for travellers across the globe.

The destination for the 2024 Virtuoso Chairman’s Event Virtuoso was also revealed — the network’s top performers will be heading to Slovenia.

Four Seasons San Comenico Palace.
Four Seasons San Comenico Palace.