Last night, the 2017 Ensemble Travel Group raised a record-breaking $259,250 dollars for the Make a Wish Foundation, during the Circle of Excellence Dinner hosted last night here in Dallas, Texas.
Co-president of Ensemble Travel Group, Lindsay Pearlman, shared that last year’s donations totalled $120,000, making this the most successful live auction in seven years.
Amid an uproaring round of applause, Pearlman and fellow co-president of the Ensemble Travel Group, Libbie Rice, welcomed Christian Englert, 17, and his family to the stage. A few years ago, doctors discovered a mass in Englert's brain. He took to the stage to share how the Make a Wish Foundation changed his life and that of his family. Today, thanks to the generous support of donations like those received last night, he is in full remission, with plans to attend college next year.
An announcement was made during the auction that this time around, Canadians who purchased a package from the live auction would see all proceeds go directly towards the Make a Wish Foundation. Approximately 88 per cent of children who receive a Wish go into remission or beat the disease they are battling. Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line also announced they would match funds up to one million, while Silversea Cruises pledged all generated funds to Tourism Cares, a nonprofit created for the travel industry to give back in the wake of disaster.
New this year to the Ensemble conference was a separate live auction with all proceeds going towards hurricane relief, after both Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria devastated the majority of the Caribbean islands back in September. Participating sponsors included Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Delta Airlines. A total of $41,000 was raised for the Hurricane Relief Fund.
The Circle of Excellence Dinner by Ensemble honoured its top-producing members in Canada.
The organization’s top producers in Canada based on 2016 sales of Ensemble preferred partners (in alphabetical order) are:
- Cruise Connections Canada Ltd. of Vancouver, BC
- CruisePlus Management. Ltd of Lantzville, BC
- Escapes.ca/Skyland Travel Inc. of Vancouver, BC
- Ixtapa Travel of Saskatoon, SK
- Jubilee Tours & Travel Ltd. of Burnaby, BC
- TierOne Travel Inc. of Calgary, AB
- Travel Masters of Vancouver, BC
- TravelOnly of Brantford, ON
- Tully Luxury Travel of Mississauga, ON
- Ucruising of Unionville of Markham, ON
The “Agency Excellence Award,” based on member engagement of the organization’s events, technology, marketing, and specialty partners was awarded to Orion Travelinx of Burlington, ON. In addition, the “Highest Growth Award” went to the following members in Canada for achieving the highest year-over-year growth (regionally) based on 2016 preferred partner sales compared to 2015: MPH Travel, Inc. of Toronto, ON; Top of the World Travel of Yellowknife, NT; The Great Canadian Travel Company, Ltd. of Winnipeg, MB; and Voyages Encore Travel, Inc. of Montreal, QC.
Beyond Boundaries, a new awards category introduced in Dallas, was established to recognize members who exemplify many of Ensemble Travel Group’s core values.
“Ensemble aspires to reach beyond traditional boundaries and embrace new and collaborative ways to inspire our members to reach their fullest potential,” said Co-President Libbie Rice. “At conference we honour those members who exemplify these principles and reach beyond their potential to be agents for change in a complex world. These members embrace social responsibility and community engagement and pursue excellence in extraordinary ways. It is with great pride that we celebrate those trail blazers with our Beyond Boundaries award.”
Winners of the Beyond Boundaries Award from Canada include Cruise Vacations of Winnipeg of Winnipeg, MB; Agence de Voyages La Para Travel of Montreal, QC; and Departures Travel of Victoria, BC.
The following preferred partners were also honoured in the annual awards program, based on member votes and input:
• 2017 Cruise Partner of the Year – Oceania Cruises • 2017 Outstanding Agency Support (cruise) – Regent Seven Seas Cruises • 2017 Outstanding Marketing Partner (cruise) – Holland America Line • 2017 Tour Partner of the Year – Globus family of brands • 2017 Outstanding Agency Support (tour) – TravelBrands • 2017 Outstanding Marketing Partner (tour) – WestJet Vacations • 2017 Air Partner of the Year – Air New Zealand • 2017 Outstanding Agency Support (air) – Singapore Airlines • 2017 Business Services/Insurance Partner of the Year – Manulife
In addition, 11 North American awards, reflecting the input of both Canadian and U.S. members, were announced at the Circle of Excellence gala:
• 2017 Transportation Partner of the Year – AvisBudget Group • 2017 Transportation Outstanding Agency Support – Vitesse Worldwide • 2017 Ensemble On Location Partner of the Year – TFL Tours (Italy) • 2017 Hotel Partner of the Year – AccorHotels • 2017 Hotel Marketing Partner of the Year – Hyatt Hotels & Resorts • 2017 Boutique Hotel Brand Partner of the Year – Red Carnation Hotel Collection • 2017 Cruise Specialty Partner of the Year – Windstar Cruises • 2017 Land Specialty Partner of the Year – Rocky Mountaineer • 2017 River Cruise Partner of the Year – Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection • 2017 Experiential/Adventure Partner of the Year – UnCruise Adventures • Above and Beyond Partner Award – Silversea Cruises
A live auction was held for a series of six to 18-day international and North American trips, with partners like Delta Airlines, Crystal Cruises, Uniworld Cruises, Windstar Cruises, G Adventures, and AmaWaterways among others.
The following companies also sponsored a raffle for a series of great prizes, ranging anywhere from roundtrip flights from Canada, to travel credits, and gift cards:
- Air Canada Vacations
- Air Tahiti Nui
- Alaskan Airlines
- Anderson Vacations
- Aon Affinity Travel Practice
- Avis Budget Group
- Disney Destinations
- Hyatt Hotels & resorts
- Norwegian Air
- New York City Vacation Packages
- Paul Gauguin
- Porter Airlines
- Princess Cruises
- Rail Europe Inc.
- Rocky Mountaineer
- Sunwing Vacations
- The Westin Grand Cayman
- Transat & Karisma Hotels
- Vacation Express
- Via Rail
- Vitesse Worldwide
- WestJet Vacations