Egypt and Virtuoso: Getting Back on Track
PHOTO: Angela Roditi in Egypt. (Courtesy of Angela Roditi)
Angela Roditi, vice president, alliances of the luxury travel consortium Virtuoso, was one of the guests of the Egyptian Tourist Authority in February for its Egypt Luxor Conference.
The ETA gathered a small number of tour operators and media from the U.S. travel industry to discuss Egypt’s problems with getting out its message that Egypt is still a good place to travel.
TravelPulse interviewed Angela Roditi after her return to the U.S. following the conference.
TravelPulse: How did you enjoy the trip with the Egyptian Tourism Authority?
Angela Roditi: For me it was my first trip. I had never been. The Virtuoso network, my network, has been a big supporter of Egypt for many years. We had a long-standing relationship with Egypt up until the revolution. In 2013 we had a decrease without a doubt in travel to Egypt. But in 2104 we’ve already seen a recovery. So clearly we’re very excited to continue on the relationship with Egypt and keep growing the business.
We deal in the luxury segment so our travelers are always looking for that "wow" factor, for that experience more than anything else. And some of things we did at Luxor Conference are exactly that. The beautiful opportunity that we had, to go to the Sphinx feet; being able to visit the Grand Egyptian Museum and see how it’s going to look and how it’s going to be; the fact that we got a private tour at the Luxor Temple; all of these things are all very much around the "wow" factor, of seeing the destination in a whole new light, even if you’ve been there before. For me it was eye opening. It was revealing.
Another thing that to me that was so impressive and so great was the whole attitude of the people. I just found that people were extremely welcoming. They really want to showcase their destination. They want to showcase their country and all of the beauty that their country has to offer the world and I was very impressed by it, whether it was the guy trying to speak to us in English at the restaurant, the people at the front lines of the hotels, the general managers of the hotels, the folks at the museum; the sense of pride was just overwhelming. It’s a country that as of late has been through a lot and there is a tremendous sense of pride in their country and what their country has to offer.
TP: Will the trip change how you do things at Virtuoso?
AR: I hope so. I really do. We are wanting to bring Egypt back in as a preferred destination. As I said, we had a long-term relationship with Egypt, which was put on the back burner with the issues of the revolution. But now I think we’re ready to once again start working hand in hand with them. We’re very keen on that happening. We’re in conversations with them to make that happen.
I think that hopefully they will be back in the mix and in front of our travel advisors having the opportunity to tell our travel advisors the story, tell them the wonderful things they can find and how it’s safe to go, how they have stylish properties that are open and ready for business, the airline service, all the things that facilitate getting a passenger over there.
TP: Egypt was previously on a list of preferred destinations, but is not now?
AR: Yes. We have about 60 relationships with different tourism board entities around world. They come on board to engage and be part of Virtuoso. They market to our Virtuoso clients. They take advantage of all sorts of different vehicles we have to promote their destinations through the Virtuoso travel advisor. We believe the best way to sell the destination is through a travel advisor. It’s through being able to put words in the mouth of that travel advisor and help them sell the destination. So when we engage with our tourism boards, that’s exactly what they do.
Egypt had been partner for a long time and we’re hoping that now things are coming back on track that they will once again become a preferred destination with Virtuoso.
TP: How is that done?
AR: What happens is we create a proposal, which we have done. It includes marketing through the different Virtuoso marketing vehicles that exist, whether it is our flagship magazine Virtuoso Life, or things like direct mail or email blasts, etc. They buy into the marketing to reach our client, and then conversely we have a series of things destinations can do to train our advisors, whether it be live webinars, on-demand webinars or coming to Virtuoso events where they have the opportunity to meet advisors and engage with them one on one and do face-to face training on the destination. That’s basically what it encompasses. And we’re hoping they once again come back into the fold.
TP: What are some things you would have liked to do on this trip but didn’t? Will you go back?
AR: Oh yes, absolutely I’ll go back. We never got to go to the Karnak Temple because of the time. Next time I would like to spend more time in the museum. I would like to spend more time in Cairo. I’d like to go to local restaurants, things like that that we didn’t get a chance to do because we were specifically in the hotels and doing things with the program.
I’d love to go to the market. I didn’t have the chance. I would love to do that. I would like to get more into where the locals are. It was a wonderful, privileged itinerary. But I’d love to sometime just get down with the folks.
TP: What are your closing thoughts?
AR: Egypt has always been a very loved destination, a very special destination. We’ve had great successes in selling Egypt in the past in Virtuoso. We’ve already seen some recovery in 2014 and we would just love to continue engagement with this fabulous destination.
More by David Cogswell
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