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Impression of Virtuoso Week 2012

Virtuoso Travel Week is an awe-inspiring event from the logistics of scheduling some 350 4-minute meetings per person, to hosting 3,900 attendees for a gourmet dinner, to attending a 5am breakfast and still finding the energy for drinks with a colleague at midnight the same day. After all of that, I’m more than happy to declare my first Virtuoso Travel Week a success! I met so many fascinating people and learned so much along the way and I am more energized than ever to get to work helping my clients plan the most awe-inspiring trips for themselves. I am still digesting the information gathered during roughly 24 hours worth of meetings, but my top 10 impressions from the week are:

1. The luxury travel industry is thriving! Sure, we’re still feeling the effects of an unstable economy, but people are still traveling and they are in search of unique an impactful experiences. This segment from CBS News is a great testament to the success of this industry. I was also really impressed with the general approach to future growth and change from the industry as a whole. I recognize that I am part of the “next-gen” of travel advisors and we are not afraid to do things differently. It was so nice to see some heavyweights supporting the next generation and embracing our sometimes unconventional way of thinking, which brings be to #2…

2. Since David was nominated as one of the most innovative advisers of the year, the topic of innovation was on my mind throughout the week. I had so many conversations with travel advisers who have been in the industry for 10, 20, even 30 years and all were beyond eager to take on new technologies and new ways of thinking. That was one of the most motivational aspects of the whole week! Sadly, David did not win the award, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t keep innovating and I’m happy to have more fellow advisers along for the ride. I am passionate about open communication and I believe the more information we share amongst ourselves, the more our clients will collectively benefit and I’m so happy to be a part of an industry that is open to transparency and collaboration (someone even called it “compete-oration” this week).

3. Which brings me to that word, passion. This became a theme on opening night when we all took the Fascination test from Sally Hogshead and realized that a strong majority of people working in the luxury travel industry have a primary Passion trigger (side note: As a “Victor,” I was an outlier). When you get thousands of people together who all have a primary passion trigger, amazing things can happen! First, everybody will immediately feel happier, they hug more often, and they LOVE to brainstorm new ideas! So, passion for life was already in the air when Francis Ford Coppola took to the stage and told us about his life passions and how he found himself as a film student one day and a hotelier several decades later. He just did what he loved and followed his passions.

4. One of my personal passions is Mexico. I love the food, culture, climate, and most of all the people. So, it has pained me to see the country suffer from a big PR problem and to hear clients tell me they won’t even consider Mexico as a destination for their vacations. The travel industry in Mexico has really banded together to fight the false stigmas about their country and their hard work is paying off! Two big awards were sent south of the border this week: The Mexico Tourism Board was awarded tourism board of the year and the Four Seasons Punta Mita won best family program. Viva Mexico!

5. My other travel passion is helping clients plan safari vacations and one of my favorite companies to work with is Micato. They place such high importance on service and quality and giving back to the communities that play host to their travelers. For every safari that is booked with Micato, they will sponsor the education for a child in need in Nairobi. And, every year at Virtuoso Week, Micato gathers their supporters together to share the latest news from their schools. The 5am wake-up calls from Micato have become legendary with the travel advisors and I wasn’t sure if I was willing to give up an extra hour of sleep for this. Boy am I happy I woke up! What a treat it was to meet the Micato team and feel the energy that radiates from the love of their jobs! On top of that, we were treated to a performance from the African Children’s Choir, and only 1 month after another epic performance! What a treat.

I have so many other notes on newly discovered destinations and hotels that I will be sharing over the next few weeks. For now, I’m still focused on the big picture that the luxury travel industry is one that is thriving and constantly changing and that I am so happy to be a part of it!

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