INSIGHT: Virtuoso agents identify destination trends

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India, Vietnam and Cuba took the lead as the top three emerging destinations for high-end clients, according to the 2010 Virtuoso Luxe Report. These exotic locales tie in with the leading trend that Virtuoso agents identified as their clients' objective for travel: seeking authentic experiences in new destinations.

Other top emerging-destination selections were the Galapagos Islands, China and Chile.

The survey also found that travelers this year are booking longer vacations to more distant destinations. More than 70% of responding Virtuoso agents said their clients are "seeking international travel for 10-plus days."

Virtuoso travel agencies responded to the survey in November and December 2009. Results were tabulated from more than 250 responses from the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.

In addition to booking trends and new destinations, other survey questions cast a wide net, enabling Virtuoso retailers to forecast the travel aspirations of some of the most upscale travelers in the U.S.

For example, one leading trend that is influencing vacation choices is "spending time or reconnecting with loved ones." Supporting that trend, the survey found that private villa rentals are "booming," with 41% of respondents saying this sector will increase in 2010 as high-end vacationers migrate toward accommodations that provide "a private group setting."

"The Luxe Report findings confirm people's continued drive to travel, to see and experience the world firsthand," said Virtuoso CEO Matthew Upchurch. "Although favorites such as Italy and Australia appear on this year's list of popular vacation locations, the results point to new interest in emerging destinations such as India, Vietnam and Cuba, the latter of which is revealing, given the current U.S. restrictions."

Other key findings from the 2010 Virtuoso Luxe Report:

  • The five most popular international destinations for travelers in 2010 are Italy, Mexico, South Africa, Australia and France.
  • The top five domestic destinations where Virtuoso agents expect to send travelers this year are Maui, Alaska, New York City, Napa Vally/Sonoma and Las Vegas.
  • The top four most popular family travel destinations this year are Italy, Mexico, Hawaii and Orlando. Australia and Costa Rica tied for fifth place.
  • Virtuoso agents predicted the following luxury cruise destinations will be popular this year: Alaska, Mediterranean, European rivers, Caribbean and the Greek Isles.
  • Clients' "determining factors" for choosing a vacation are: the right destination, value for money paid, the right activities and price.

Virtuoso has more than 300 agency members in 22 countries.

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