Virtuoso is the leading network of luxury travel advisors and a recent visit to New Zealand by Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso's Global CEO and Chair, presented an opportunity for Tourism New Zealand to discuss the growth of business into New Zealand from the Virtuoso network. During the 2014 calendar year, Virtuoso transacted a total of NZ$100 million (US$72 million) in inbound travel to New Zealand.
Currently, Virtuoso's New Zealand forward sales represent an increase of 95 per cent year on year. Tourism New Zealand's partnership with Virtuoso saw New Zealand double its share of the luxury travel network's $US14 billion global tally in 2014.
Capturing greater value from the lucrative premium sector is an important component of Tourism New Zealand's strategy to grow the number of high-value visitors to New Zealand and CEO Kevin Bowler says this stunning result affirms Tourism New Zealand's choice to invest in Virtuoso.
"Since launching our premium traveler strategy in October 2013, TNZ has invested significantly with Virtuoso and we are thrilled with the results to date.
"Last year New Zealand topped Virtuoso's Hot List for biggest year-on-year growth in luxury travel. This year, for travel between January and March 2015, New Zealand has become Virtuoso's third top selling destination globally, achieving the second largest growth behind Singapore.
"Not only has this partnership resulted in amazing experiences for Virtuoso's customers, it's also helped boost New Zealand's economy, supported local hotels, luxury lodges, incoming travel companies and tour operators."
2015 marks the seventh year of Tourism New Zealand's partnership with Virtuoso, which is an invitation-only luxury travel network with a membership of more than 335 independent travel agencies. These agencies comprise a total of of 7,200 luxury travel advisors located in 20 countries around the world, including North America, Latin America, Europe and Australasia, where the network has recently opened new branches.
On average, Virtuoso travellers spend between NZ$9,500 - $15,000 per trip per person ─ approximately three times what the average USA visitor to New Zealand spends during their trip to New Zealand (NZ$3,900).
Tourism New Zealand's additional investment in the Virtuoso network has allowed it to substantially increase the exposure and presence of New Zealand amongst destinations traditionally riding at the peak of popularity with Americans, such as the UK, Italy, South Africa and Australia.
This investment in the premium sector has also allowed a number of new initiatives including:
Bringing 15 top advisor influencers on a VIP familiarisation in May 2015, in turn creating a brand new group of New Zealand ambassadors from the most influential member agencies in the network.
Investing heavily in Virtuoso's events in North America, allowing Tourism New Zealand to access and educate hundreds of front line travel advisors. Many of these events included New Zealand's luxury lodge and inbound tour operator partners, creating opportunities for our NZ private sector luxury companies to network and educate the Virtuoso members.
Capitalising on Virtuoso's growth into the lucrative Latin America markets, where Tourism New Zealand has now established an integrated marketing plan to target Virtuoso's high producing luxury travel agencies in markets such as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Mexico. This is complemented by the opening of Tourism New Zealand's São Paulo office in 2013.