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Published on : Monday, October 24, 2016
Travel and tourism is an enormous economic force, which continues to grow despite the challenges of an uncertain world. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry accounts for more than U.S.$7.2 trillion, or 9.8% of global GDP. Travel spending is forecast to grow by 3.1% this year alone, and will outpace the global economy’s growth overall. One in 11 people worldwide works in travel and tourism, which equals 284 million jobs.
Virtuoso®, a 30-year-old global luxury travel network with a strong presence in Australia, is observing this positive upward trend in the high end of the market. Worldwide, Virtuoso comprises more than 390 travel agencies with over 11,400 travel advisors in 41 countries. It also counts as global preferred partners 1,700 hotels, cruise lines, airlines, tour operators and others. More than (U.S.) $15.5 billion in annual travel sales makes Virtuoso a powerhouse in the luxury travel industry.
Growth in the travel sector remains strong despite a world full of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (known as VUCA). While global events can impact travel and tourism, travellers – especially luxury travellers – are not letting these challenges stop them from seeing the world. VUCA actually increases the desire for authentic human connections, and that’s where Virtuoso comes in.
Despite Brexit, the U.S. political situation, Zika and the threat of terrorism, Virtuoso is up 5.5% year over year. Among Virtuoso travel agencies, 82% are predicting sales will increase in the coming year. Not one is predicting a decrease.
Virtuoso has also experienced impressive recent expansion in the Asia-Pacific region where the advisor network grew by 47 percent in 2015.
“Travel advisors have never been better poised for success because consumers continue to search for – and even demand – human interaction,” said Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch.
“But if you promote yourself solely as a way to book travel, you’ve lost before you’ve even started. As an advisor, you have to show the value you bring because people don’t go to advisors for information anymore, they go for clarity and curation; they want to know if they’re even asking the right questions. Loyalty – not simply repeat business and there is a difference – is created through the emotional human connection, where the advisor delivers security, ease, fun and inspiration, and structural, where the more the advisor knows about the client, the more it becomes a mutual investment. Automate the predictable so that you can humanise the exceptional.”
Mr Upchurch will be visiting Australia this week, attending the first ever Virtuoso Travel Week Australia – The Cruise Show, an event which will give Virtuoso advisors across three cities information on the latest in luxury cruise from our Preferred Cruise Partners.