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Hotel & Tourism SMARTreport #43

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EVENTS (...) IF YOU

EVENTS (...) IF YOU DON’T ASK WHAT WENT WELL AND WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ETC., THEN THAT’S NOT A RELATIONSHIP, THAT’S JUST A TRANSACTION. Matthew Upchurch CEO, Virtuoso VIRTUOSOS OF LUXURY FLOCK TO LAS VEGAS The ultimate annual global travel community event sets key trends for elite travellers The elite of the luxury travel industry will be back in Las Vegas this August for the exclusive Virtuoso Travel Week, from 10-16 August. With 1,000 agency locations in over 50 countries, the number of Virtuoso advisors has grown organically by over 126% over the past five or six years, while the number of high net worth clients has grown 156%. Virtuoso clients spend US8,000 per annum on travel, with, on average, 8.2 trips per year. Average air ticket spend is US,650 per flight, and average daily spend is US,735. Virtuoso clients spend, on average, three times more than an average client on hotels and tours, and four times more on cruises. SUSTAINABILITY AT HEART OF OFFERING Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch constantly underlines the importance of sustainability among his ranks: “We feel that travel advisors can play a role in elevating the conversation around sustainability,” stated Upchurch at last year’s meeting, adding, “We have awarded sustainability prizes for almost nine years now here at Virtuoso Travel Week, for hotels and for individual companies. Those of us who have been in this business for a long time have literally watched what some of these partners do that is just beyond amazing. We have been awarding that for a while. The outcome of the whitepaper that was published already last year was very simple: How can Virtuoso make sustainability a greater factor – not the only factor by any means… How can we make it a greater factor in consumer choice? It’s that simple.” The single thing consumers tell Virtuoso, according to Upchurch, that differentiates, in their mind, a transactional travel agent from a truly trusted advisor is the conversation after the trip: “If you don’t have a conversation with me after the trip; if you don’t ask what went well and what would you change etc., then that’s not a relationship, that’s just a transaction’. That has been growing organically. It’s been a dream of mine for 10 years, and over the past year and a half we’ve invested a huge amount of our R&D. We are working on a platform that takes what has been happening organically and marries fun technology (kind of think of Netflix), with great purposeful discussions with consumers, to help extract meaningful conversations about what people want to do in the future, and make it a much more fun, seamless and scalable process.” Of course, he was talking about the recently announced Virtuoso platform, Orchestrator. No doubt, we will hear a lot more about the platform at this year’s event. Watch this space

Hotel & Tourism SMARTreport #43 2019 Summer Edition 7 7 RESPONDING AND ADAPTING TO RAPID GROWTH AND TRANSITION Second annual Xianghu Dialogue of WTA to plot ongoing roadmap for industry The World Tourism Alliance (WTA) is planning its second annual Xianghu Dialogue in Hangzhou, China on Sept. 18-21, 2019. This year's Dialogue will focus on "Today's Travel & Tourism Industry: Responding & Adapting to Rapid Growth and Transition." Important topics include global travel & tourism developments and trends; destination marketing and big data, technology advancement & industries innovation and many more relevant issues and challenges facing the industry will be addressed in collaboration with the UNWT), World Bank, European Tourism Commission, Global Tourism Economic Forum and the Pacific Asia Travel Association. Founded in September 2017, WTA is still a very young organisation, but its Secretary General, Shijun Liu says its DNA is truly global: “The world tourism industry has expanded exponentially in keeping with the rapid developments in technology and high-efficiency distribution channels. The Internet of Things (IoT) has turned the tourism industry into an economic force, facilitating the marketing of travel products and offers between travel providers/ suppliers and travellers across the world in real time,” states Mr Liu, adding, “This has resulted, among others, in a surge in the number of incremental travellers in Asia Pacific compared to the more established and conventional regions.” China has become the world’s number one source of outbound travellers, significantly contributing to the growth of international tourism revenue. More importantly, Chinese travellers have become the most sought-after market segment by destinations throughout the world. Chinaready programmes that cater exclusively to Chinese travellers have been adopted by tourism offices, hotels, shopping outlets, museums and entertainment centres. Chinese-language websites, brochures and signage are ubiquitous in emerging, established and conventional destinations. This signifies the importance of the Chinese outbound tourism. So, who are the members of WTA today and which organisations are they looking at to further develop? “The WTA membership covers the whole travel and industrial chain”, says Mr Liu. “We are proud that our mission, message and vision resonate with several companies and organisations throughout the world as evidenced by the rapid growth in the number and geographical diversity of our members in only a short time.” As of March 2019, WTA’s membership roster has grown to 182 from 38 countries and regions, a sizable increase from 89 members at the time of its establishment in 2017. Several of their members are influential and respected companies and organizations, including Australian Federation of Travel Agents, Beijing Tourism Group, Changi Airport, China National Travel Service Group, Club Med, TUI, US Travel Association, just to name a few WTA Xianghu Dialogue 2018