Virtuoso launches its very first Travel Tech Summit

WHY IT RATES: Virtuoso launches its first Travel Tech Summit during Virtuoso Travel Week, held this month in Las Vegas, to highlight new innovations in travel technology and highlight strategies that are driving the ‘industry. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Editor

Virtuoso, the leading global network specializing in luxury and experiential travel, is hosting its first-ever Travel Tech Summit, to be held August 14 at the ARIA Resort & Casino from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during its Virtuoso Travel Week event.

The summit will feature three distinct components: a Big Ideas session with multiple speakers discussing technology strategies that are driving the industry forward; a venture capital panel focused on innovations and longer-term opportunities that investors seek out and fund; and a startup showcase showcasing companies tackling the obstacles the travel industry is currently facing. Led by entrepreneur and technology investor and Virtuoso Board Member Gilad Berenstein, with Virtuoso Senior Vice President, Digital & Consumer Products Travis McElfresh among the Big Idea speakers, Virtuoso puts center stage technology to support its long-standing belief that its network is best served by having choice in technology solutions.

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

The summit will start with a broad, macro view and go through phases that will eventually narrow down to the local level. Berenstein will kick off the sessions with a broad overview addressing five key themes: optimizing everything; the financialization of travel and how it leads to better consumer experiences; the role of creators and influencers; aggregation and super applications; and emerging technologies focused on Metaverse and Web3. This keynote presentation features the four Big Ideas speakers, who will delve deeper into each category. Then, the panel of venture capitalists will weigh their point of view as investors. Finally, the Startup Showcase will feature five new companies developing solutions to mitigate pain points in the travel industry and demonstrating real-world applications.

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

Speakers for each session follow.

Speakers on Big Ideas:

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 – Head of Early Stage Venture Capital, 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

For more information, visit

THE SOURCE: Virtuoso press release.

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