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Arizona Road Warrior
07-05-2010, 03:55 PM
This past week, we recieved an issue of Virtuoso Life magazine compliments of US Airways since we are a US Airways World Elte MasterCard cardholder. Has any one had experiences with Virtuoso and/or a Virtuoso affiliated travel advisor? Thanks.

(Please move the thread if this is in the wrong thread).

Ned
07-05-2010, 04:33 PM
My own travel agent is a Virtuoso member. He and his agency are excellent. Our upcoming cruise is a Virtuoso cruise on Regent. One of our shore excursions is only available through Virtuoso travel agents.

Virtuoso doesn't sell travel themselves. It's all done through their members according to my understanding of their organization.

Loonbeam
07-05-2010, 06:10 PM
Duplicating Ned here since we use the same agency. Via Virtuoso I've seen some really decent options, just none that have matched up with our plans, yet..

Virtuoso is a marketing entity, you don't book with them direct. Their target is what I am calling 'upscale light', i.e. upscale experiences that are still reasonable but have the feeling of being luxury travel...

bodega
07-05-2010, 06:53 PM
Virtuoso is a consortium. Agencies pay to belong and some consortiums have certain requirements of the agencies that wish to join. There is value in numbers with better purchasing power and that is why agencies join other agencies at a consortium. The cruise lines and tour companies often have to pay to be a part of the consortium, too.

vacationagent
07-06-2010, 12:39 PM
Virtuoso is the best! Just ask them. :D Just kidding - they aren't ALL snooty.

Virtuoso was originally a New York company from the 1960s called Allied Travel that specialized in extremely high end independent travel - things like cars & drivers and private guides. The man who founded our company was one of the original shareholders. They were purchased by the family that had owned Hemphill Harris (a luxury escorted tour operator) in the mid-1980s and went about the process of rebranding (first as Allied Percival) and broadening their product scope. They launched a massive recruitment effort in the late 90s after they again rebranded to Virtuoso, so it's not as exclusive as it once was. For instance, they now allow more than 1 agency per area.

The Board of Virtuoso would be highly indignant at their being characterized as "upscale-lite" even though they offer some premium products (as opposed to their primary products which are luxury).

The woman with Conde Nast Traveler (Wendy Perrin) who publishes a list of the best travel agents (not agencies) in the country always has a couple of Virtuoso agents on her list.

There are other consortia who offer have private offers for the clients of their member agencies like the private shore excursion Ned references.

A membership in Virtuoso would indicate a travel agency's committment to luxury vacation travel.