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Takeaways from Virtuoso Travel Week 2020

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ― Eleanor Roosevelt

Last week I attended the first ever virtual version of Virtuoso Travel Week, and it was AH-mazing! Virtuoso is an invite-only, global consortium of professional travel advisors and travel suppliers (hotels, tour operators, cruise lines, etc.) who usually gather together for a packed week of networking and events in Las Vegas every August. Last week we took it all online, and it was an incredible achievement because it still felt personal, meaningful, and exhilarating. I got to see friends and colleagues in their offices around the world and meet with companies new to my radar. For example, I leaned into learning more from light adventure providers who specialize in bicycling, golf, hiking and many more outdoor pursuits around America because I know we're all valuing wide open spaces closer to home right now. Those activities combined with my access and flair for authentic cultural experiences, history and cuisine will help make your next trip even more inspiring. 

You may wonder how an online conference could be "exhilarating," right? I spent days meeting with almost 70 travel colleagues around the world, suppliers who've been in the trenches alongside us advisors, and it was heartening to feel the camaraderie and solidarity with others in the travel industry. Our continued love for global exploration bonded us even closer together, and it was joyful to talk about the future of travel and how these talented people have been spending these disruptive days. For the last five months I laser-focused on shoring up my business to actually make it stronger than ever, and my favorite question to ask suppliers was about what their company has been doing to take advantage of this time. I loved all the answers I heard! Closed hotels and resorts have been able to renovate, refresh, and remodel in full force without inconveniencing guests. Tour operators have had precious time to get out and develop interesting new tours and improve itineraries. Suppliers around the world implemented stringent safety protocols and reduced capacity with the well-being of guests, staff, and the public at the forefront of reopening strategies. An undeterred, positive, entrepreneurial energy flowed throughout the conference, and travel suppliers' passion for their products and destinations was infectious. To unabashedly dream again of Italy, France, Peru, Portugal, Iceland, Australia, Costa Rica, Turkey, Egypt, and so many other countries was both rejuvenating and agonizingly tantalizing! After being cooped up for months, I want to go everywhere, and I want to GO NOW. Anyone else feeling that way these days?

To give you just one example, the photo above made me burst out with a deep sigh of longing during a Belmond presentation last week. If you're not familiar, that is the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina, on the east coast of Sicily. So many things I love are all in this image: a rocky coastline, beautiful gardens, fabulous hotel, and an ancient amphitheater. Fancy yourself alongside Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren (previous guests) sipping cocktails on the terrace above those lush gardens, and if you're staying in one of their most exclusive suites, you'll be given access to a private entrance to the theater directly from the hotel. Once inside, your view of Mount Etna will make the perfect backdrop to an unforgettable performance. Deep sigh, right...?

For now, I'll continue focusing on American adventures closer to home for my clients, but just know when you're ready and able to breeze through your bucket list, Nine Muses Travel and all my travel partners will be ready too. The travel industry has survived downturns before, and we'll always believe in the power of travel as a positive force and deeply understand local economies rely on responsible tourism, which is one of the world's greatest redistributors of wealth. I'm happy to report our industry is committed to rebuilding better and making a conscious comeback with renewed efforts to nurture and benefit local cultures through responsible tourism. I have close relationships with tour operators whose primary mission is to assist the local economies where they travel, and it's one of the reasons Nine Muses Travel is a member of the Virtuoso Sustainability Community. You can feel good knowing your travels are directly helping the communities you're visiting.

In the meantime, getting a future trip on the books is a great way to ease your pent-up desire to travel. I work with suppliers offering risk-free change and cancellation policies like never before. What destinations make you sigh so deeply when you think of being there? Let's plan ahead - while there's still availability! So many people are getting their future travels on the books now. Why not you?

I creatively customize luxury travel highlighting local arts and culture, history, and cuisine for intellectually curious clients longing to feel deeply inspired by exciting destinations, culinary delights, and authentic cultural experiences on a life-changing, joyful journey of discovery.

-Danielle Dybiec

President of Nine Muses Travel


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