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Virtuoso Travel Week: The can't miss networking event for travel professionals

PHOTO: Pool view at the Bellagio Hotel (c) Sery Kim

For those involved in the hotel industry -- be they owners, travel agents or consultants -- last week the convention city destination of choice Las Vegas held the singular “can’t miss” travel conference to end all conferences: Virtuoso Travel Week.

Created by the gregarious Matthew Upchurch, Virtuoso is an international luxury travel agency network comprised of more than 9,800 elite travel advisors in 30 countries throughout North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. While some might consider travel agents to be dinosaurs in the technological age, it is fascinating to recognize the continued year-over-year growth in this industry … to the tune of $14 billion dollars in FY 2014 sales.

PHOTO: View of Virtuoso's Opening Night Conference at Bellagio (c) Sery Kim

Annually, this group convenes together in a spectacular binge-networking session to end all networking sessions. Truly, no one interested in rising in the travel industry should miss Virtuoso Travel Week with its vibrant underpinning of a tent revival mixed with an arduous college application process and, at times, it felt no one did! The over 4800 attendees at the insanely huge Bellagio Las Vegas -- I clocked in nine miles a day on my pedometer each day I was on the grounds of the Bellagio -- dominated the 4.8 million square feet of the Bellagio with more than 450,000 one-to-one meetings.

PHOTO: My collection of business cards from Virtuoso (c) Sery Kim

The singular quality of these personal interfaces on campus during the Virtuoso conference is more than worth the price of admission while the designation as one of Virtuoso’s “Best of the Best” carries a weighty akin to the travel agent Oscars.

For those who are fortunate enough to attend next year, then do not miss the chance to do so. While those who are considering a Virtuoso designated “Best of the Best,” look no further than the 2015 awardees listed below. I personally am looking forward to being in Switzerland in a month to experience Virtuoso’s “Best Spa” Dolder Grand Spa in Zurich.

Be sure to tune into the blog throughout the rest of the year for additional updates on Virtuoso related Members!

PHOTO: A special Virtuoso treat courtesy of Bellagio (c) Sery Kim

Virtuoso "Best of the Best" 2015 Winners:

Hotel of the Year: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Galway, Ireland

Hotelier of the Year: Antonio Sersale, Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy

Best Achievement in Design: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Japan

Best Culinary Experience: Epicure, Le Bristol Paris, France

Best Family Program: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, USA

Best Spa: Dolder Grand Spa, The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland

Most Innovative Guest Experience (tie): Corcovado Experience, Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil andRed Carpet Ready, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, California, USA

Sustainable Tourism Leadership - Hotels: The Brando, French Polynesia

One to Watch: Rosewood Beijing, China

PHOTO: Virtuoso "swag bag" (c) Sery Kim

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