Virtuoso continues to put its travel advisors first with new initiatives aimed at bolstering efficiency and profitability for its members.
The network revealed details of its new programs as well as growth updates at the recent 2019 U.S. & Canada Forum, which took place in Austin, Texas, January 24-26, 2019.
The event itself set a record with its highest attendance ever, 510 attendees, which is not surprising as the health of the industry can be seen from Virtuoso’s network growth over the last year.
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The network currently has a record number of travel advisors, reaching 20,000 in 2018, a 14 percent increase. Eight-one percent of that growth came from existing member agencies, with the remainder from newly added members.
Virtuoso now counts more than 1,000 agency locations in 50 countries. These agencies are responsible for $26.4 billion in sales in 2018. That is an 11 percent increase in annual production.
When it comes to key partner segments, there are even more areas where the network is experiencing double-digit growth, including tours (plus 11 percent), cruises (plus 13 percent), on-sites (plus 18 percent) and hotels (plus 26 percent).
Taking into consideration these strong growth numbers, its no wonder travel advisors have a strong outlook for 2019. Ninety-two percent of members are predicting sales growth for this year, and half of the respondents are envisioning growth of more than 10 percent.
Eighty-four percent of members said that the U.S. government shutdown has not affected consumer confidence in travel. Despite recent stock market fluctuations, 58 percent say consumer confidence has not been impacted.
Virtuoso continues to support its members, paying them 100 percent of the overrides it receives from preferred partners and provides a way to share best practices across the full agency operation through Virtuoso Benchmarking Teams.
Its three-step strategic collaboration process, focused on setting up goals and working to meet them, is unique to Virtuoso another way the network assists agencies.
For 2019, the top member goals are improving advisor efficiency, developing talent, finding new advisor talent and maximizing marketing, and Virtuoso has created initiatives to strategically address each area of interest.
Virtuoso will also continue to train and develop talent in the industry. The Virtuoso Travel Academy provides members with live webinars, online training, video-based sessions and travel documentaries. Advisors can also an intensive week-long program called the Virtuoso Certified Travel Advisor that has already enjoyed amazing success, training more than 300 participants.
Virtuoso has also introduced MyMarketing that will enhance advisor efficiency, simplify marketing efforts and increase effectiveness.