7 Reasons a Virtuoso Affiliation is a Must-Have for Luxury Advisors
I have seen the luxury travel industry from every point of view. Over the past 20 years I have been a client, advisor, brick and mortar store front manager, and I am now the Operations Manager of a luxury focused host agency. This experience has taught me a great deal about what sets agencies apart from others and how important it is for agents to have hosts and consortia affiliations that benefit their unique niche.
In the luxury market, this is especially true. You need to cultivate relationships with suppliers so that you can bring to the table perks that other agents can’t provide your clients. Your clients should feel that not only are you the expert in luxury travel, but that you care about their best interests.
Virtuoso provides you with that edge to help you acquire new clients, and retain existing clients in a competitive industry.
1. Luxury Supplier Relationships and Onsites Around the World
Relationships are key in the travel business. You must build relationships with clients and suppliers around the world for your business to succeed. From referrals from your clients to preferred suppliers fulfilling your special requests, you need these connections to help your business grow and thrive.
Thanks to the strong relationships that Virtuoso has built in the travel industry, you already have this foundation of suppliers, travel associations and consumers. Because of these strong ties, you have a network of suppliers and industry experts that will help your business succeed. Preferred suppliers create opportunities for Virtuoso members to experience their products, services and destinations first-hand. This is true in all consortia and agencies; however you don’t want to waste time with mass market products that would be included in non-specialized consortia.
These relationships have also created one of the best components of Virtuoso, the worldwide onsites. More than 130 of the world’s best ground operators and destination management companies are ready to give your clients VIP treatment in more than 175 countries with insider access to places tourists cannot usually get into. You can’t go along as a guide or host with all your clients, so how nice would it be to send them with a host that will praise you and your affiliation, and treat them like VIPs?
To make sure that you cement the bonds with suppliers, Virtuoso hosts its annual conference called Virtuoso Travel Week. At this event, preferred suppliers are invited to meet with agents and educate them on what they can offer them as a Virtuoso travel advisor.
2. Professional and Personalized Turn-Key Marketing
Your marketing reflects your business, yet you don’t have hours each day to focus on your marketing efforts. That is why it is important to utilize professional and polished marketing tools that will reinforce your role as an expert travel advisor to your clients. Virtuoso provides magazines, emails, brochures, direct mailers, and social media guidelines that reinforces your agency brand and directs clients and prospects to you.
Now there are many consortia that offer turn-key marketing but Virtuoso is the only consortium that is strictly luxury focused. With this unique focus, all their marketing efforts are designed to appeal to this target audience. Virtuoso’s marketing is designed to engage and influence consumers at each stage of the purchase cycle.
- Inspiration: VIRTUOSO LIFE and VIRTUOSO TRAVELER magazines build and reinforce relationships, communicate ideas, and engage your clients and prospects, inspiring them to travel.
- Consideration: Monthly themed travel catalogs and destination guides group like experiences together, so consumers can browse through a variety of offer-driven options.
- Interest: Direct mail and email are highly tactical, retail-focused messages designed to drive consumers to make a purchase decision.
Virtuoso doesn’t blindly send these communications pieces on your behalf, flooding your affluent clients with mailers and emails. Marketing pieces are sent to clients that are qualified based on their travel preferences, budget, and interests at a maximum rate of four per month. Virtuoso helps you accurately code your database to help you learn more about your clients and then deploys marketing to the clients who are interested in the specific marketing pieces. This way, you have the best marketing going out on your behalf yet you can focus completely on selling.
3. Advanced Travel Advisor Training
To maintain your expertise, training is crucial. Not only do you need a training platform that covers everything from destinations and suppliers to travel trends and marketing, you need a platform that makes learning easy and convenient.
Virtuoso’s online training tool, the Virtuoso Travel Academy, fits the bill and is available 24/7 for all Virtuoso advisors. The comprehensive training program offers a full range of development programs for seasoned veterans.
Core programs include:
- Consultative selling skills
- Marketing tips
- Virtuoso product and services
- Luxury supplier product and destination classes
Virtuoso doesn’t stop there; they also assist advisors in attaining industry certifications such as certified travel advisor, master cruise advisor or adventure travel advisor too.
As a Virtuoso member, the Luxury Travel Network has harnessed this training platform and we have gone a step further creating a program to guide advisors who want to sell more luxury travel.
4. Amenities and Special Perks at Over 950 Hotels and Over 450 Virtuoso Voyager Club Sailings
Luxury clients have a certain ideal in mind of what to expect when they travel. All travelers would love to have stress free getaways but your luxury clients want a little more. Providing perks and unexpected amenities that make the overall vacation experience more delightful will keep their bookings with you.
That is why the exclusive arrangements for Virtuosos are so wonderful. Your clients will be treated like royalty. And if you are selling to affluent travelers, then you know that it is not the price but the experiences that are most important to these travelers.
Virtuoso guarantees that all preferred suppliers will offer benefits that meet or surpass the benefits offered by other agencies. In other words, no other agency can offer benefits that surpass the ones obtained by Virtuoso clients.
Virtuoso’s roster of more than 950 top hotels, resorts, ranches, camps and lodges are prepared to wow your clients with thoughtful amenities and the best accommodations and service within their destinations.
The Virtuoso Voyage Club is another perk that your clients would love access to. For the past 20 years, Virtuoso has catered to clients while at sea by offering special hosted cruises. These sailings raise the bar that the luxury cruise lines already hold high by offering a host on each sailing, exclusive cocktail events, intimate shore excursions, and other special events without any additional costs.
5. Brand Power and Recognition
As an established and well trusted consortium, Virtuoso has built strong relationships with the leading brands in the luxury market and clients that indulge in these brands know Virtuoso means exclusivity. This trust and recognition as a leader in the luxury market equates to higher confidence and greater satisfaction among your clients.
Brand power and recognition also pertains to the media. Alliances with top media partners and innovative companies like Virgin Galactic keep Virtuoso front and center for the attention of the world’s most affluent travelers.
6. Higher Commissions and Bonus Overrides with No Supplier Minimums
The commission levels that a consortia is qualified for is a major stake in the game. To make an informed choice you have to know the commissions you would receive from the suppliers you book the most.
When you are booking with luxury suppliers, the difference between 13% and 18% can be dramatic. It is near impossible for you to meet the minimums set by suppliers to receive the highest commissions on your own. That is why your affiliate choice is so important. When you join a network that can give you the top tier commissions for all the luxury suppliers, it can mean the difference between thousands of dollars a year.
7. Make More Money on Air
Airline tickets have lost the luster they once had, but you can still make money on them. Virtuoso’s exclusive air program provides Virtuoso advisors with domestic and international air options that save the client money and increase revenues for the advisor. This is important because air is a part of most travel arrangements that you put together and you should be compensated for your time.
Wrapping it Up
So there you have it, the seven most important reasons why you should have an affiliation with Virtuoso if you plan to be in the luxury market. Obtaining this affiliation will not be easy though. The cost alone makes it unobtainable for many successful travel advisors. That is where we come in. When you join the Luxury Travel Network, you receive a Virtuoso affiliation through us. The Virtuoso affiliation is just one of the many reasons why seasoned luxury travel advisors join our boutique host agency.
Sharon Concepcion is the Operations Manager for Luxury Travel Network, a boutique host agency for travel professionals. Sharon’s passion lies in the leisure luxury market and helping luxury agents successfully grow their home-based businesses. She knows all of the independent contractors personally and is always available to them when they need her. She loves to travel and her favorite getaways include a Baltic Sea experience, a charming river cruise down the Rhine and Mosel, and an unforgettable visit to wine country in Mendoza, Argentina.