Virtuoso wrapped up its first-ever Virtual Travel Week, sending off travel advisors with messages of hope, business advice for surviving the pandemic and a message on race from Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts.
Virtuoso advisors shared their advice for travel advisors on how to manage business during the pandemic when travel is at a standstill.
“Most clients traveling now are not afraid of getting ill. They are more concerned about getting stuck in a location or getting quarantined,” noted Helena Andren, founder and managing director, Travel Beyond.
Anthony Goldman, joint managing director of Goldman Group, shared how his company is reaching out to clients.
“One of the biggest challenges is staying relevant and keeping in touch with our clients,” said Goldman. “We are doing a lot of work in connecting with our clients and finding reasons to talk to them. Like Wanderlist and continuing to communicate our value as a travel advisor.”
Charlotte Harris, managing director of Charlotte Travel, noted that, as a business in Hong Kong, one of the greatest challenges is that people are unable to travel.
“What we are doing is encouraging staycations,” said Harris. “We have put together green tours where people can go out and explore their backyards, outdoors. There’s a lot of hiking, exploring the beaches, and exploring the UNESCO sites that they don’t really know of that are here in Hong Kong.
Kemi Wells, director of business development, North South Travel, is running a series of travel dreaming events virtually for her clients.
“Most of our clients aren’t really looking to leave Canada this year,” said Wells. We are doing a lot of training and development on localized product.”
Josh Bush, CEO of Avenue Two Travel spoke on opportunity.
“I think that one of the biggest opportunities is how do we capture this pent-up demand when it’s time to travel,” said Bush. “We are all waiting on the edge of our seat for a vaccine and a viable treatment…One of the things we are putting forward to our clients that they should double down on their 2021 vacations.”
He noted that people can double their budget using 2020 and 2021 vacation money to book dream trips for next year.
Cheryl Cheney Bunker, vice president global member relations, provided three areas for advisors to focus on within their businesses, including keeping their Virtuoso advisor profile up-to-date, staying in contact with clients and working on professional development.
Beth Butzlaff, vice president global partner relations, encouraged partners to make sure that your products and people are visible to advisors, join a Virtuoso community and engage through multiple touchpoints like marketing, sponsorships, special programs and more.
Johnson was the keynote speaker during the closing ceremony, and she spoke about her background and how her mother inspired her to create Salamander Hotels & Resorts.
Johnson also tackled the subject of racism and shared how the travel industry, one of the most diverse industries in the country, can work to combat this major issue.
She encouraged companies to do more and broaden management opportunities for people of color and immigrants.
“Confront the issues of race as you never have before…racism is a problem that is not going away,” said Johnson. “We are going to fix it by demanding more of ourselves by providing promotions and equal opportunities to people who don’t always look or talk like we do. We cannot fix the world, at least not all at once, but we can get our house in order and that would be a start because what is the world if nothing more than a collection of millions of little houses. We have something no one else has, in the ongoing quest to once and for all stamp out racism, we have a head start and remember the face of America is written on the halls of the hospitality industry.”
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