Is Virtuoso really that good?

Discussion in 'Luxury Hotels' started by AdamEfimoff, Sep 20, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. I have booked 3 times and none of those times with the programs I have never got upgrades. Wine is great.
    But here is my issue I would rather deal with the hotels myself. It gives me a rapport with a hotel, gets me to know the hotel and the manager. But with I virtuoso my travel agents gets all of that.

    Also I find that we never got upgrades and sometimes got ignored.

    Maybe its the Four Seasons Chain does not respect the program as much as small chains. I would rather we could negotiate one on one with the hotel rather than go through what is a luxury wholesaler.
     
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  2. canucklehead
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    canucklehead Gold Member

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    I think you have answered your own question.
     
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  3. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Indeed.

    But even if you don't get an upgrade, you tend to get a lot with participating properties. There's usually a food / beverage credit, massages, etc.
     
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  4. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Like all things in travel, it depends. I use a mix of Virtuoso and Amex FHR for bookings.

    Amex gives guaranteed 4pm check out. That, at peak season, can be very valuable. Virtuoso is "upon availability." If you plan to depart in the evening, unless your virtuoso agent can get the hotel to guarantee the late check out, Amex may be the way to go.

    That said, I find the booking process working with the independent contractor virtuoso agent that I work with to be much, much easier than working with Amex. So, unless I need late check out definitively and it is high season, I go Virtuoso.

    As to upgrades, there are a number of factors that come into play. With limited exception, upgrades aren't guaranteed. At peak season, with virtuoso or Amex, you are not super likely to get an upgrade at many properties. You do get breakfast for two and some other nice amenity.

    Many virtuoso agents are also FS preferred partner / Ritz Stars agents....I find those agents's clients get the best treatment at those flagged properties. They often get the first upgrades.

    Unless you can find a meaningful discount not going through one of these agents, the value of the breakfast and the potential for an upgrade are usually worth working with a professional agent. Whether you go Virtuoso or Amex, that is a facts and circumstances based decision.
     
  5. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    I'm sure all the hotels will be happy to have a long discussion about your stay, Adam.
     
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  6. DanielCosta

    DanielCosta Member

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    Sounds like it wasn't too good and as already stated, your question has been answered by yourself. It's not great and definitely could be improved.
     
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  7. KyRoamer
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    KyRoamer Gold Member

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    My partner uses a Virtuoso affiliated agent and gets all sorts of goodies. He swears by Virtuoso.
     
  8. DanielCosta

    DanielCosta Member

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    Strange to see some having a good experience and others just having a terrible time.
     
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  9. Seacarl
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    Seacarl Gold Member

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    Is there a resource with Virtuoso and FS Star agents who are recommended by the MP community?
     
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  10. pricesquire

    pricesquire Silver Member

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    I'm surprised to see such negative responses regarding Virtuoso.

    Let me start by a full disclosure: I'm a Virtuoso agent. That said, I used Virtuoso for 4 years before deciding to become an agent. FWIW, I'm also an attorney. I was so impressed with my Virtuoso agent I decided to try my hand at it myself. I travel internationally 5+ times a year (leisure), and I love helping people make the most of their travels.

    In those 4 years before becoming an agent, only 2x did I not get upgraded (out of the dozen plus trips I had). Both those times, the hotel was so sorry, they doubled my hotel credit ($200 USD).

    I'm not sure what the OP means regarding: "It gives me a rapport with a hotel, gets me to know the hotel and the manager. But with I virtuoso my travel agents gets all of that." I don't think it's so black and white. Virtuoso agents have rapport with hotel staff regardless. After all, hotels send roving groups of sales reps (even GMs) to visit Virtuoso agencies all the time. Personally, when I send a client to a Virtuoso hotel, I make sure the GM knows they're coming (via email or cell). That rapport starts to build from the second the client walks in the door. It's a shared experience. GM is happy agent is sending business their way. GM is happy Client X is coming to their hotel.

    If you don't mind me asking, OP, which properties did you have such bad experiences?

    FWIW, I'm an independent contractor, so that may make a difference. I do a lot of site visits and work hard to make GM connections (again, regardless of whether I'm sending a client their way). I don't know a single hotel who would ignore a client for the sake of giving attention to an agent.

    I must add: finding a good Virtuoso agent is just as difficult as finding a good attorney or a good CPA (or a good plumber!). It's all about personal rapport. The upside is, once you find that advisor who just "gets" you, you have a real agent, working for you behind the scenes, both prior, during, and even after your trip.
     
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  11. I did not accept this but I got an Upgrade guaranteed arranged this has happened more than once I just feel really uncomfortable accepting them. The hotel sans upgrade wanted to use a TA. I just wonder why I should use a travel agent
     
  12. markcwj

    markcwj Silver Member

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    I personally feel that Virtuoso are better one short-term stays since some benefits are extended on a per stay basis only. Also, always a good idea to see whether upgrades are given upon confirmation or at the time of check-in. :)
     
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  13. I have emailed many hotels and quite a few have offered upgrades and up to 30% off the price sans an agent
     
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  14. markcwj

    markcwj Silver Member

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    Hi Adam, you have gotten up to 30% off BAR (since that's what Virtuoso charges) and the associated benefits when you contact the hotels directly? That's a great deal!!
     
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  15. not benefits but 30% off
     
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  16. I never got an upgrade with one or really that much better treatment. In fact I got appalling treatment by Le Cinq

     
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  17. I have been through 3 agents none of which have been very good
     
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  18. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    0/2 for upgrades at an empty FS property. Booked both ressies through a FSPP/Virtuoso agent.. The FD agents weren't that great to deal with either...
     
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  19. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I used to be a fan of the AmEx FHR program when PTS encouraged/allowed people to work with particular agents. Now that one is forced to try to work with the random person who answers the phone and most of the good agents have moved to Centurion, what used to be a wonderful experience ranges from painful to horrible. I'm surprised that AmEx is willing to leave so much money on the table over this.

    I've been debating whether I should try Virtuoso, but the lack of a GUARANTEED late checkout is very offputting to me. In the meantime, I get upgrades as well as the guaranteed late checkout from SPG and Hyatt--but not Marriott despite being PP with them--and a Hyatt wonderful private line agent. The downside is that I prefer the individual independent hotels, especially in Western Europe and much of Asia.
     
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  20. I just find that with most agents charging fees and not guaranteeing anything its pointless
     
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  21. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Consider paying for status with the LHW program? Not bad if you like independent hotels.
     
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  22. markcwj

    markcwj Silver Member

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  23. Jimgotkp
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    Jimgotkp Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing the link! I was unaware of this promotion.

    I should've been more specific in that post, I was referring to the Unlimited status. Seems like the MC promo gives the lower status.
     
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  24. WilliamQ

    WilliamQ Gold Member

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  25. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Wasn't unexpected. :)
     
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