Global Village
Business Traveler US|August 2023
Virtuoso travel network CEO Matthew Upchurch on industry demand, sustainability and the value of human connection
Eden Herbstman
Global Village

IT’S LIKELY YOU’VE stayed at a hotel or resort that is part of Virtuoso’s global network. The luxury travel organization carefully vets properties that receive its seal of approval, with affiliated brands including Aman, Belmond and Waldorf Astoria. But that just scratches the surface of Virtuoso’s ecosystem. For those seeking a bit more than a hotel—perhaps a private villa in Italy, an exploration cruise, or a sustainable wellness retreat in Bali—Virtuoso offers an arsenal of experiences. It’s also possible your travel agent is a member of Virtuoso’s advisory network, which encompasses 20,000 agents. “My family roots are in tour operation. But if you would have told me at 22 years old I would be hanging out with travel agents the rest of my life, I would have run for the hills,” says Matthew Upchurch, CEO and cofounder of Virtuoso. Today the company is a one-stop shop of extraordinary travel offerings, but its roots go back to 1950 as Allied Travel, established by independent agencies to share resources, people and technology. “Back in those days—and I mean no disrespect—being a travel agent was a clerical job. Airlines began cutting agency commissions by 15 percent to get rid of them. The feeling was travel agencies were dinosaurs.” In 1986, alongside his father, Jesse, Upchurch rebranded Allied as Virtuoso. “The birth of the Virtuoso brand came from everyone looking at travel agents as the lowest common denominator. We needed to do something to show the consumer that these people are different. Advisors can add value before, during and after a trip.”

This story is from the August 2023 edition of Business Traveler US.

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This story is from the August 2023 edition of Business Traveler US.

Start your 7-day Magzter GOLD free trial to access thousands of curated premium stories, and 9,000+ magazines and newspapers.