World's largest luxury travel network to meet in Vienna
For its 20th symposium, Virtuoso, the world's biggest luxury travel network, is returning to Vienna and therefore to the city where it was rebranded and reborn under the new name Virtuoso in the year 2000. Since then, the association, which is based in the USA, has grown steadily and now has an annual turnover of $30 billion, with over 20,000 luxury travel advisors in more than 50 countries. Among its 2,200 partners are twelve Austrian hotels – seven of them in Vienna, three in Salzburg and two in the Arlberg region – and two local tour operators.
Vienna and its luxury offerings will feature prominently on the agenda at the symposium: meetings will be held in such grand locations as the Grosser Musikvereinssaal concert hall and Schönbrunn Palace, while the evening events will take the more than 300 delegates to venues including the Spanish Riding School and the KHM museum of art.
Matthew D. Upchurch, CEO and Founder of Virtuoso
"We are delighted to be holding our annual symposium in Vienna again at last. This city, which celebrates virtuoso exponents of every discipline so wonderfully, plays a very special role in our story, because it was here that in January 2000, we announced that we were changing our name to Virtuoso. There could be no better place than Vienna to hold this prestigious event, at which we bring together some of the most prominent decision-makers in the luxury travel industry to network and engage in productive dialogue about the challenges, opportunities and future of our sector."
Lisa Weddig, CEO of the Austrian National Tourist Office
"I am extremely pleased that we are finally gathering in person again here in Vienna for the Virtuoso Symposium and can share our ideas about the positive prospects ahead. With the USA becoming the first overseas market to start to recover, our industry is regaining a market that – in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 – was responsible for 860,000 visitors and 2 million overnight stays in Austria. The bookings situation for next summer is already very promising. That's good news especially for city tourism, which, along with conference business, is still suffering the most from the pandemic."
Norbert Kettner, Managing Director of the Vienna Tourist Board
"The Vienna Tourist Board was the first tourist board in Europe to enter into a partnership with Virtuoso when it was founded in the year 2000. In the decades since, this close cooperation has been an integral part of our luxury marketing activities – worldwide and especially in the USA, a market where luxury is a high priority. 27% of US overnight stays in Vienna take place in 5* hotels. It can be hard to reach luxury travellers via mass marketing channels. Virtuoso is a guarantee that they will choose Vienna for highly personal reasons, because, in the luxury segment, professionalism and the personal touch count for more than elsewhere."
Economic benefits of luxury travel
Globally, the proportion of luxury travellers is just 7%, but they are responsible for 20% of expenditure on travel. Statistically, a luxury visitor spends six times as much as an average visitor. City breaks are the most popular form of luxury travel, accounting for 29%. In 2019, 9.5% of all overnight stays in Vienna were in 5* hotels, but they made a disproportionate contribution – over 22% – to the total turnover of the hotel industry. In 2019, the number of overnight stays by travellers from the USA, Vienna's main overseas market, exceeded one million for the first time. With the aim of creating yet more added value – on the principle that "mass follows class" – in 2017 the Vienna Tourist Board established the "Luxury Cercle", a platform on which Vienna's luxury service providers can network and pool their expertise. The Vienna Tourist Board has also been cooperating for years with business clubs and tour operators in this highly specialised segment. Vienna's rich history and magnificent architecture, combined with a cultural life of world renown and a distinctive blend of quality, prestige and premium products, are the city's USPs in its global positioning. The Vienna Tourist Board supports this with its own marketing, tailor-made for the luxury target market. https://luxury.vienna.info
USA is the leading luxury market
In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, Austria recorded nearly 860,000 arrivals and 2 million overnight stays by visitors from the USA. That does not include over 250,000 US visitors who came to Austria on a river cruise. Traditionally, 70% of the arrivals were during the summer season, from May to October. 50% of the overnight stays by visitors from the US were in Vienna (2019). The Austrian National Tourist Office directs its marketing activities in the USA at a well-educated target group – 80% of visitors from the US have a university degree. Current marketing activities include the joint online winter campaign with our partners Tirol Werbung, Innsbruck, Arlberg and the Ötztal valley, and a city breaks campaign to boost city tourism that has been particularly badly hit by the pandemic.
Discussion about trends, challenges and opportunities
The annual Virtuoso Symposium is an event where decision-makers from the fields of luxury and adventure travel come together, including those travel agents who are members of Virtuoso and senior managers from the association's network of partners. As well as the working sessions, the programme also features networking events and debates about the trends, challenges and opportunities for the industry. The host destination and its luxury amenities take centre stage throughout the entire event. Vienna is one of the few cities, along with Hong Kong and Cape Town, to have hosted this meeting twice.