Friday, February 3, 2023

Virtuoso announces its first-ever Travel Tech Summit

Virtuoso, the leading global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel, is hosting its first-ever Travel Tech Summit, taking place August 14 at ARIA Resort & Casino, during its Virtuoso Travel Week event.

The summit will consist of three distinct components: a Big Ideas Session featuring multiple speakers addressing tech strategies that are driving the industry forward; a VC Panel focused on the innovations and longer-term opportunities that investors are seeking and funding; and a Startup Showcase featuring companies that are addressing obstacles the travel industry is currently facing. Led by tech entrepreneur and investor, as well as Virtuoso board member, Gilad Berenstein, with Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Digital & Consumer Products Travis McElfresh among the Big Idea speakers, Virtuoso is putting technology on center stage to support its long-held belief that its network is best served by having a choice when it comes to tech solutions.

“Innovating and pushing boundaries is something Virtuoso has always embraced,” says Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch. “Our Incubator program helped launch some of the travel tech players that are core to our business today. This Travel Tech Summit is just our next step in furthering innovation and ensuring that travel technology benefits our agencies, advisors and the partners who work with us. We believe in fostering technology that enhances the value of human connection. As I’ve been saying for more than 20 years, automate the predictable so that you can humanize the exceptional.”

The summit will begin with a wide, macro view and go through phases that eventually narrow down to the grassroots level. Berenstein will kick off the sessions with a broad overview addressing five key themes: the optimization of everything; financialization of travel and how it leads to better consumer experiences; the role of creators and influencers; aggregation and super apps; and emerging technologies focused on the Metaverse and Web3. This opening presentation tees up the four Big Ideas speakers, who will dive deeper into each category. Next, the venture capitalist panel will weigh in with their perspective as investors. Finally, the Startup Showcase will feature five new companies that are developing solutions to ease travel industry pain points and are demonstrating real-world applications.

“After attending so many industry events, both open and closed, it seemed to me there was no home for innovators focused on luxury travel and the advisor/agency model,” said Berenstein. “The goal of this summit is to bring together some of the top minds in the industry, from the largest innovators to those funding development, to the entrepreneurs and start-ups bringing these visions to life.”

Speakers for each session follow.

Big Ideas Speakers:

Khalid Meniri – CEO and Founder, Selfbook
Ethan Hawkes – Head of Strategic Partnerships, Hopper
Karen Bolda – Senior Vice President of Partner Products, Expedia Group
Travis McElfresh – Senior Vice President of Product, Virtuoso

VC Panel:

Gaurav Tuli – Managing Director, F-Prime Capital Partners
Chris Hemmeter – Managing Director, Thayer Ventures
Chantal Noble Haldorsen – Early Stage VC Lead, Certares
Cara Whitehill – Founder and Managing Director, Unlock Advisors

Startup Showcase:

Grace McBride – Founder and CEO, Lucia
Gary Kohn – Co-Founder, Luxury Travel Hackers
Alex Jara – CEO, Deal Engine
West Askew – Founder and CEO, Thatch
Irving Betesh – CEO and Co-Founder, Sion

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