In just 2 weeks I will be heading back to Las Vegas for what will be the most intense week of my year and with this in mind, I'd like to give you a small glimpse into what running a travel business entails.
Just as fashion buyers attend Fashion Week, I will be heading to Virtuoso Travel Weekto shop the newest travel trends and products for our clients. These include emerging destinations, exciting hotel openings and service enhancements, upcoming air and cruise line news, and more. I will spend a full week discovering and researching the most extraordinary travel experiences. Although this is my first visit, having only joined Virtuoso back in January, I know for sure that this is where lasting connections will be made to help us design customized vacations that build memories that last your lifetime.
To give you an idea of the scale of this luxury-only convention, I have well over 225 meetings lined up, and that's before breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffees and hopefully some ice cream buddy chats (that's a thing, right?).
On top of that I have an awards ceremony to attend, as we are one of 5 nominees for Virtuoso's Rising Star in the Cruise category. We are truly amazed at this recognition only 7 months into our Virtuoso affiliation.
To move on, I would like to give everyone who reads our weekly ezine the opportunity to ask me absolutely any question you can imagine about travel, whether that's destination specific, supplier specific or just something you've always wanted to know. I know my travel, but I am about to meet with the absolute best in the world, and I would absolutely love to be asking specific questions on our clients behalf. Please text, message, call or email with your questions. If this leads to us helping with your wanderlist, we will of course, be thrilled.
So, what's on your wanderlist?
5 Meetings I'm looking forward to at Virtuoso Travel Week
(not that the other 220+ won't be really good also)
Next week we will have an exciting cruise-focused announcement, but for now, let me just say that I am very excited to be sitting down with senior management of this cruise line in Vegas. I heard Larry Pimentel (President and CEO of Azamara) give a key-note speech at a conference about a year ago, and he spoke my language. It wasn't about his ships, what they look like, or the latest go-kart track on the top deck, it was about the cultural experiences that he wants his passengers to have. When we ask our clients for feedback when they return home, it has become clear to us that hotels and ships are actually not the major factor in the enjoyment of most trips. It's the small moments with a local on a private tour that gets talked about and seared into the memory. Azamara curate culturally immersive shore excursions and itineraries and we love them for that. For instance, in Yangon, Myanmar you can walk in the footsteps of Buddhist monks (below) on a journey to monasteries where you’ll experience a meditation and learn about the history and teachings of the Buddha.
2. Belmond Peru hotels
It's a year and a day since we experienced Machu Picchu, and it likely will remain as the biggest wow moment of my life. Belmond is a super-luxury hotel group with a particular focus on Peru, and they even have the Belmond Hiram Bingham train that runs between Cusco and Machu Picchu as well as the Andean explorer which enables longer journeys through this incredible country. As well as the only hotel literally next to Machu Picchu itself, the Sanctuary Lodge, there are 3 other properties in the country including the Hotel Monasterio in Cusco (below). I will be connecting with Belmond executives to ensure our clients stays are made exceptional.
3. Travel2Greece by Travelive
Did you know that there are hundreds of travel suppliers that you will absolutely never have heard of, because they do not sell travel directly to consumers? Many of these are known in the industry as "On-Sites" and they are country or even area specific companies just brimming with the true local insider knowledge that is making the difference in our clients itineraries. We have created several client trips in partnership with Travelive, and clients have raved about their experience. Vegas will be my first opportunity to sit down and meet with owner and founder Mina Agnos to solidify what is already a great relationship.
Mina's top tip - sneak Naxos (below) into an island hopping itinerary if possible. It's totally underrated and very good value.
4. Leela Palace, New Delhi (above and below)
I will admit to some slight personal bias here, as I will be heading to India and specifically Delhi at the beginning of September. The connection I make with the hotel management at our meeting, will at worst allow me to enjoy a full site inspection of this hotel, rated consistently in the Top 5 in all of Asia, and possibly I will be able to enjoy a heavily discounted night or two. Yes, there are some serious perks in this career. More importantly, if a client ever stays with them, I will have the contacts to enhance their stay.
5. Philippine Department of Tourism
Yes, Tourism Boards are an important part of our research and are often an invaluable resource when we are looking for information on events and festivals in countries and cities. We have never sent anyone to the the Philippines and are yet to have a request for the country but we think it's an amazing destination, especially for scuba divers. El Nido in the north of the island of Palawan (below) is an underwater treasure trove. We will make some connections through this meeting and will be better placed to help when the Philippines pops up on a clients radar.
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