When I started my due diligence on starting a travel business, I knew that I had to be part of Virtuoso. I realized that was going to be tough starting new (Virtuoso limits its membership to the top 1% of travel advisors), so I found the most wonderful host agency (Largay Travel was founded in 1969 and members of management serve on Virtuoso's Advisory Board) and began my mentoring program.
But why would I care so much about being part of Virtuoso? Virtuoso offers so many benefits for travelers. Virtuoso is an exclusive network of high-end travel companies who work together to create customized vacations for their clients. It not only includes the top 400 travel agencies but also luxury travel providers like hotels, airlines, cruise lines, car rental companies and tour operators. Virtuoso has high standards for the vendors that they accept into the program. Properties and suppliers are fully vetted by a team of experienced luxury past hoteliers and travel professionals in addition to reviews and recommendations. In the rare event that a problem occurs, advisors have more clout as Virtuoso members.
Virtuoso advisors create exclusive vacations drawing on the travel partners to create deluxe itineraries, upgraded rooms, enhanced travel services and valuable perks for their clients. Benefits can include VIP experiences, hotel room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfasts, early check-in and late checkout, welcome amenities/gifts, spa and food credits and rate discounts.
Perhaps the most important benefit is the relationship between the client and the advisor. One of Virtuoso's primary messages over the years has been "Enhancing lives through human connection." Advisors get to know their clients well and provide clarity to the confusion of choices and destination information by discovering what matters to their clients. Advisors work with Virtuoso partners to take the extra effort to make their client's trip more memorable and hassle-free. Virtuoso is also a proponent for education of their advisors. Advisors are offered continuous supplier product training, career enrichment, benefit training and sales and negotiation instruction.
American Express credit card holders ask about their card benefits vs. Virtuoso benefits. While many of the benefits are similar, the bottom line comes down to personalized travel planning. What appealed to me after coming out of the financial field and managing people's money was this same personal aspect. I relish the idea of getting to know my clients well an planning some of their most special times. I love looking at deals, promotions or events and matching them to my client's needs. We are trained at Virtuoso to be our client's advocate and be available to them - not give them an 800 number and an unknown person at the other end.
In the words of some Virtuoso clients:
"In a strictly economic analysis, it's a great bang for your buck. You can't get these types of
experiences if you coordinate everything yourself."
"We want to see a broader context and perspective and it's great to do that working with
someone who will always go the extra mile."
"We've traveled with Virtuoso enough that our travel advisor knows our taste in
restaurants, accommodations, etc and she is able to quickly provide us a handful of
relevant recommendations vs. us having to spend hours online."
And for those clients who spend a certain amount each year traveling, there is the Virtuoso Reserve Program. These premier experiences give clients access to rare and exclusive events not offered to the general public.
Champagne reception and dinner with Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The
Duchess of Cornwall
Opportunity to cook with three Michelin-star chef, Heinz Beck, during a three-day gourmet
extravaganza in Algarve, Portugal
Private champagne reception with Jimmy Choo and front row seats at catwalk showing of
For more information on Virtuoso and its benefits, contact me or go to www.virtuoso.com. Also check out our award-winning Virtuoso Life magazine which features experiential luxury travel at its best - available on my website or www.virtuoso.com. Contact me is you would like a subscription mailed to you.