Ensemble Travel held its annual gathering in Vancouver last week, with 120 member agencies and preferred suppliers in attendance at the Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront. The full day agenda included a keynote address, supplier partner presentations and trade shows.
In his opening remarks, Ensemble Co-President Lindsay Pearlman stated "the calendar could not have changed fast enough!" - in reference to 2016 being a tumultuous year with political events and tragic incidents. Nonetheless, 2016 was Ensemble's second best year in the company's 50-year history, narrowly missing the top spot by a mere $100K.
In these challenging and competitive times, National Training Manager Cathy Varrecchia's keynote focused on delivering extraordinary customer service.
"Our society has evolved from a commodity economy where people lived off the land, to a product economy of readymade goods. And in today's digital world where goods and services are just a click away, differentiation is the key to survival.
"Travel consultants need to actively engage clients in the vacation planning process, customize the experience, and build relationships through memorable interactions. Just like the internet, digital technology is here to stay. Embrace these tools, use social media and travel related apps to enhance your clients' vacation enjoyment, as anticipation of a vacation is just as important as the trip itself."
Lastly, Cathy advises: "Charge what you're worth, and don't apologize for it. Clients will pay for service and you deserve to be rewarded for your hard work."
Ensemble Travel offers a myriad of tools to help members design memorable experiences for their clients, including hosted and amenity cruise departures, On Location partners, air, resorts and villa programs, and coming soon: the Navigate cruise booking engine.
Key sponsors Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Crystal Cruises, Delta Air Lines, Lindblad Expeditions, Manulife & TFL Tours received stage time to present their updates. After lunch, the Niche Partner Exchange roundtable sessions featured AMResorts, Australis, Belmond, Fiji Airways, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Melia Hotels International & Cuba, Playa Resorts, Rocco Forte Hotels, Rocky Mountaineer, Star Clippers, Tourcan Vacations, Travel Bound, Velas Resorts, Visit Jordan & Windstar Cruises.
In the Specialty and Luxury Supplier Sprints, breakout rooms facilitated simultaneous 10-minute presentations by Abercrombie & Kent, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Cunard Line, G Adventures, Insight Vacations, Kensington Tours, Oceania Cruises, Paul Gauguin Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises, Tauck, Travel2 & Viking River Cruises. Face time was also available to meet with the day's presenters in mini trade shows.
The Ensemble EXTRAORDINARY! event continues to Calgary, Edmonton and ends in Toronto on March 30.