Virtually everyone who is anyone is here in Las Vegas for the long-awaited annual Virtuoso Travel Week VTW. It seems far too long since the last ‘proper’ Virtuoso, in August 2019. Everything has changed but nothing has changed. Dining in Wolfgang Puck’s Spago at BELLAGIO the view out across the lake, with its choreographed fountains, above, is still as magical as ever. (Girlahead celebrated personally with W. Puck a few years ago when both were awarded honorary doctorates, he for cooking and she for content-composing, but that is another story.)
The celebrations at Spago were hosted by Kempinski’s COO Amanda Elder to honour two birthdays. First was the latest of a succession of parties for ever-youthful travel advisor Valerie Wilson, who now only has 20 years to go until the Big C. The other birthday honoree is Kempinski, celebrating 125 years. We heard the great news about Kempinski taking over GRAND HOTEL CANCUN: it’s managing it already, and it will shortly be reflagged.
This is indeed a great time for celebrations. There are over 4,000 delegates here in Vegas. Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew Upchurch opened the always-impressive Sunday session. There may be an assumption that the subject is travel but really it is human connection, he said. Of a survey of Virtuoso’s 20,000 advisors in 50 countries, 78% are feeling optimistic. In the USA, sales are 47% above 2019 levels and 2023 looks record-breakingly good. In the rest of the world high net-worth travel is not expected to reach 2019 levels until beginning of 2024.
Helen McCabe-Young, SVP Marketing, shared new initiatives. A partnership with HospitabilityMe reaches out on the inclusion front. Virtuoso is indeed a community of all travel professionals, she said, putting travellers at the centre of everything. Concentrating on the highest-spending travellers makes sense – they are planning to spend an additional 34% on travel in 2023.
Virtuoso The Magazine is being enhanced. Wanderlist travel agendas become a social forum, traveller describe their advisors, so-in the know, so Virtuoso #soVirtuoso. So much more to come….
Listen to Helen McCabe-Young, here: