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From traditional to transformational: Virtuoso's Greg Treasure on the luxury travel evolution

In an exclusive interview with Virtuoso General Manager Australia and New Zealand Greg Treasure, Karryon delves into the shifting landscape of luxury travel and the challenges it faces in meeting evolving expectations.

In an exclusive interview with Virtuoso General Manager Australia and New Zealand Greg Treasure, Karryon delves into the shifting landscape of luxury travel and the challenges it faces in meeting evolving expectations.

“Luxury is subjective,” Treasure tells Karryon. ”And most travellers want to build their interpretation of luxury into their travel experience.”

“30 years ago a high-end European tour with a business class airfare top and tailed with 5-star hotels was what was considered luxury,” he says. 

“Today luxury is about experiences, cultural immersion and human connection.”

 And the appetite for, and knowledge of, luxury experiences amongst discerning travellers has grown.

“We now live in an information age where luxury travel gets significant coverage on all media platforms,” Treasure says. 

“At any time of day, travellers are connected to platforms that showcase unique experiences or luxury properties. These travellers are far more educated than they were over 30 years ago and they want those experiences and almost see them as the norm.

“The way in which we live our lives has also changed. Our parents who were the luxury demographic back then generally lived with a scarcity mentality having been raised by their parents who lived through world wars and a depression so they were programmed a little differently when it came to spending on enhancing their life experiences.

“Today the house we were raised in back in the 80’s with 3 bedrooms and one bathroom is no longer acceptable. We demolish and rebuild or renovate to ensure we have all the modern touches and luxury finishes. And if we go on holiday we want and expect an elevated experience than what we have at home.”

What makes a luxury travel advisor

Treasure is still relatively new at Virtuoso, having joined in February this year. “The privilege of having the travel industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced travel advisors,” he reflects, “has been a main takeaway.”

Virtuoso advisors craft and curate programs that really do elevate the human experience that can deliver so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” he says. 

“Those skills have been built up over many years.”

Treasure sees his role as almost being a “conservationist of the luxury travel ecosystem” supporting those advisors. That means nurturing industry partnerships and committing to training and development to provide advisors with the necessary tools to continue enhancing their clients’ travel experiences.

The challenges ahead 

When probed about surprising trends in the luxury space, Treasure references Virtuoso’s recent 2024 Brand and Travel Trend Tracker. 

“Aussies and Kiwis are wanting to step away from everyday life and crowds, opting for holidays where they can disconnect, or travel further afield where disconnection is forced.”

“We noted the shift in travel motivations towards relaxation, adventure, and romantic getaways,” he shares. 

As travellers seek disconnectivity and unique experiences, Treasure emphasises the importance of ongoing professional development for advisors.

Virtuoso Travel Greg Treasure General Manager Australia and New Zealand

“From an advisor perspective, with so much luxury product now being developed, keeping up to date on new offerings and changes is a significant challenge,” Treasure says.

“Through our professional development opportunities, advisors can continually keep up to date with new and diverse product ranges offered by preferred partners to discerning travellers.

“The challenge for suppliers is how they can be unique and finding new ways to enhance the traveller experience to ensure they are continuing to meet those evolving expectations in a competitive environment.”

Greg Treasure is a seasoned travel industry professional with over three decades of international experience, having held senior executive leadership roles at HRG Travel across Australia, Asia Pacific, North America, and Latin America. His past roles include Managing Director of HRG Australia, General Manager of HRG Hong Kong, and Managing Director of American Express Global Business Travel. Known for his strong commercial acumen in competitive and diverse environments, Treasure is recognised as a natural leader adept at achieving organisational goals. He currently works out of Virtuoso’s Sydney office.