LAS VEGAS, 2012-08-28 — / — International luxury travel network, Virtuoso®, celebrated the close of its 24th annual conference, Virtuoso Travel Week, last night with its annual Gala and Virtuoso Awards at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The well-attended event, which saw a record turnout of 2,378 attendees – a venerable who’s-who of luxury travel – served as the final ceremony, marking a successful weeklong event that brought together the upper echelon of the travel industry comprising Virtuoso member agencies and their travel advisors, hotels and resorts, cruise lines, tour operators, preferred destinations and tourism boards, airlines, on-sites and specialty services.

Hosted by Virtuoso Chairman and CEO, Matthew D. Upchurch, CTC, and President and COO, Kristi Jones, CTC, the gala honored some of the most innovative, admired and top-performing travel advisors in Australia, Latin America and North America, as well as Virtuoso suppliers that go the extra mile.

“We are extremely proud of the advisors and suppliers who stand out amongst an impressive group of travel professionals by consistently demonstrating their proven sales ability, their level of engagement within the network and by drawing respect from their peers,” said Upchurch. “Whether we’re honoring a 20-year industry veteran, an impressive up-and-comer or a preferred supplier that goes above and beyond to serve the travel agency community, recognizing individuals who exemplify the talent within this network and contribute to its strength is the perfect way to cap off a successful week of networking, relationship building and genuine salesmanship. What better reason to celebrate a closing gala!”

The Peer-to-Peer Awards allow members to recognize preferred suppliers and vice-versa. Supplier finalists are chosen by the respective member product committees, which are elected to represent the entire Virtuoso membership due to their expertise. In addition, the network requested that anyone nominating a travel advisor for an award provide supporting commentary in 200 words or less, which heavily factored into the nomination process. Finalists were chosen based on the merits of the full recommendation submitted. In all, Virtuoso received an astounding number of votes from 1,073 advisors and 501 suppliers.

Virtuoso Award winners and categories appear below:

2012 Gala Awards Member Production Results

Top Virtuoso Network Production:
Protravel International – New York, New York, USA

Top Latin America Production:
Teresa Perez Tours – São Paulo, Brazil

Top Australia/New Zealand Production:
Travel Concepts – Milton, Queensland, Australia

Top Year-Over-Year Growth:
Protravel International – New York, New York, USA

Top Virtuoso Air Production:
Travel Experts, Inc. – Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Virtuoso Network Engagement:
Coastline Travel Advisors – Garden Grove, California, USA

2012 Gala Awards Peer-to-Peer Awards Member Results
(In this category, Virtuoso Preferred Suppliers vote for Virtuoso Member advisors)

Most Hospitable Agency:
Protravel International – Beverly Hills, California, USA

Most Innovative Advisor:
Peter Lloyd – Century Travel, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Virtuoso Rising Star:
Will Jennings – Valerie Wilson Travel, Inc., New York, New York, USA

Most Admired Advisor: Australia/New Zealand:
Suzanne Duzenman – Global International Travel Service, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia

Most Admired Advisor: Latin America/Caribbean/Bermuda:
Vita Vega – Felgueres Viallo S.A., Mexico City, Mexico

Most Admired Advisor: USA/Canada
Anne Scully – McCabe World Travel, Inc., McLean, Virginia, USA

2012 Gala Awards Peer-to-Peer Results: Supplier Awards
(In this category, Virtuoso Members vote on Preferred Suppliers)

Best Airline
Virgin Atlantic Airways

Best Specialty Provider
Travelex Insurance Services

Best Luxury Cruise Line
Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Premium/Contemporary Cruise Line
Oceania Cruises

Best River Cruise Line

Best Voyager Club Event
Melbourne: Coliban Park Sheep Station with Outback Lunch (Abercrombie & Kent Australia)

Best FIT/Custom Tour Operator
Classic Vacations

Best Escorted Tour Operator

Best On-site Provider
Made for Spain

Best Active & Specialty Provider (VAST)
Micato Safaris

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About Virtuoso
Virtuoso® is the industry’s leading luxury travel network. This by-invitation-only organization comprises over 330 agencies with more than 7,200 elite travel specialists in 20 countries in North and South America, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as over 1,250 of the world’s best travel providers and premier destinations. The network’s member agencies generate over $9.6 billion annually in travel sales, making the group the most powerful in the luxury travel segment. Their relationships with the finest travel companies provide the network’s affluent clientele with exclusive amenities, rare experiences and privileged access. For more information, visit To view Virtuoso’s latest videos, go to

Media Contacts:
Misty Ewing, CTA                                        Jami Gordon-Smith/ Emily Venugopal
Virtuoso – Director, Public Relations                The Brandman Agency
Phone: 202.553.8817                                   Phone: 212.683.2442