I am a big Virtuoso fan!
Basically, you can additional amenities (like free breakfast and spa and/or meal credit) and benefits like free upgrades just for using these different travel agents.
The problem is finding what the rates and benefits are. The solution is using Classic Travel.
Here are some advantages of using them:
- You can choose any credit card that you want to use. There is no fee for booking with our web platform or getting access to the added value amenities. Cancel with one easy click
- For the most part (though it varies by hotel) cancellations can be done up to 48 hours prior to your booking.
- In addition to Virtuoso rates, Classic Travel has launched its added value Preferred Partner Hotel Program Hotels that might not be in other programs such as Amex or Mastercard Elite. Classictravel.com is becoming one of the largest collection of luxury hotels with added value amenities.
- You get access to a full service agency. The people handling your calls and requests are our travel agents and are well-traveled individuals who have personal relationships with the hoteliers.
- Many hoteliers come to the agency weekly, which allows us to build many personal relationships with properties.
- Amex, at least in the US, has closed most of their storefront locations. Their agents thus tend to travel less than the typical Virtuoso agent and have fewer opportunities to speak with hoteliers.
I have used them in the past and recommend them (very professional and easy to work with).
Here is an example of where these special rates can save money.
Here is a sample booking for the Aria Hotel Las Vegas for September 16, 2014-September 17, 2014.
The differences in these rates show that you pay less with Virtuoso than with Kayak (around $15 less or so) and Virtuoso offers at least a $50 credit towards your stay at the resort plus spa passes, which makes it a pretty good deal.
Have you ever booked a Virtuoso rate?
I’m not sure what your relationship with this agency is but I actually was looking for a virtuoso agent for an upcoming trip so this was a well timed post. Thanks!
No relationship! I have used them in the past and really liked them – I found it was hard to find a Virtuoso agent.
See my comment below on why you should use a “real” Virtuoso agent.
It’s one thing to use Classic to check rates…a whole other thing to reward them with commission when the only one doing work is a computer!
I like the fact you’ve pointed out the benefits of Virtuoso. Bravo – as this is one of the least discussed luxury hotel perks discussed (less than 5 articles mentioning it all year on BA, I believe). I’m a Virtuoso advisor – and I’m constantly surprised how little people know about this tool.
That said, I disagree with your assessment of Classic.
1) Classic doesn’t have every hotel in the Virtuoso network on their site. There are hundreds of hotels that are missing from their site.
2) I can count almost two-dozen times Classic’s Virtuoso amenities were outright wrong (either had an add-on amenity that wasn’t correct, or was missing an amenity).
3) I can count almost two-dozen times their pricing was wrong. I used to use them to check rates for clients – again, I’m a Virtuoso advisor – and then I’d cross-compare with the actual hotel. A lot of the times Classic was correct, but a lot of the times they weren’t. Quite discerning.
4) Classic negates the point of having a Virtuoso advisor. Besides getting the amenities, the point of an advisor is to create a personal relationship with someone in the business. Your advisor knows you – knows what kind of rooms you prefer, class of service, types of tour…whether your wife likes chocolate or vanilla…they leave personalized notes for you, and discuss your needs with the GM.
When you book with Classic, you’re left with nothing more than an online booking agency….a classier version of Kayak, sure, but no relationship.
5) Virtuoso agents don’t mind checking rates. There’s a misconception that Classic makes things “easier” – and in fact, it doesn’t. I’ve had rate requests over 50-100 times off FlyerTalk alone, and I don’t mind shooting an email to a GM/colleague/hotel. It’s easy.
6) When you book with Classic (again, a classier version of Kayak), you’re rewarding someone – someone you don’t know – with commission. Most likely it’s going into the company pot (the house commission).
Why wouldn’t you want to reward a real person, YOUR agent, with the commission they’re earning by working for you? Boggles my mind.
Anywho, super glad you are bringing Virtuoso to the forefront of your sire right now.
On the other hand, still bummed people want to reward a (fauly) product like Classic when there are real/live people who are dying to get clients & make commission.
Thanks for your comments!
Can you send me a note so I can get more information?
Sent you an email 🙂
I have to add (to my own comment – lol)
-These hoteliers (and airlines, cruise reps, GMs, tour guides, etc) visit ALL Virtuoso-affiliated offices, not just Classic.
-The “cancel any time” rates are true for ALL Virtuoso rates, not just Classic.
i always try and book direct, unless I am bidding through Priceline which I have been using since 2002 without issue. Trusting an agent with your money is just problematic, sure you can usually get your money back if there’s a problem but it is always a hassle.
It is always better to avoid an agent for anything, best to book direct for all your travel needs for so many reasons how many agent horror stories and screwup are needed before people wise up. It is all good until shit hits the fan, I prefer to err on the side of caution not worth it for a few bucks.
Sorry, but sounds like you’ve never used an agent before.
“I try and book direct”
There is NOTHING more direct than booking w/ an agent. We use GDS for client bookings (Global Distribution System) –> which is THE most direct possible method. It’s more direct than using an OTA (orbitz; kayak) who usually queues your reservation before issuing it (they have to make sure there’s room/seats available).
When GDS is unavailable, we call not front desk or reservations, but the GM. Can it get more direct?
“Trusting an agent with your money is just problematic”
Again, this doesn’t make sense. Agents don’t touch your money. Hotels are the ones who ultimately need your CC (and charge it). Your bill is due on check out, and is charged on check out — that’s the ONLY time your money is ‘handled’. Agents make money via commission, which comes from hotels – not clients.
“Not worth it for a few bucks”
Virtuoso agents aren’t necessarily in the game to save you a few bucks. They get you best available rates, but their business is in making your vacation special. The whole point of a luxury travel agent is to get enormous value-added amenities, recognition, wifi, upgrades, spa credits, free tours, etc.
“Agent horror stories”
Never heard of a single one. In Virtuoso-land, you’d probably be fired immediately.
ps, ever try fixing a problem w/ Orbitz/kayak/OTAs 1-800 number and those who are stacked 5 high at Indian call centers? Good luck!!!
It absolutely boggles my mind to hear people who’d rather book using an OTA (with no value-add amenities) verses booking via a live person who has the cell phone # of the hotel GM & gets you VIP amenities……….
Someone please explain..
This “I can’t believe” factor is quadrupled when people are booking hotel rooms at $295+ night and/or booking vacations that are even moderately complex using an OTA.
In short, sometimes ‘deals’ come in more shapes/sizes than money off your folio. [Albeit, Virtuoso rates come w/ $100 credits :D]
Flyer On a Budget
Thank you for pointing out ClassicTravel.com . I personally just want the amenities. I don’t want to talk to a person, and I don’t need a concierge service. Thank you again for the link.
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