Ensemble Travel has long been a powerful player in the Canadian retail travel market. Ensemble now has 335 member locations in Canada and 392 in the U.S. Sales figures will stay strong in 2020 as demand for travel and the services of professional advisors reaches new heights, says Ensemble Travel Group CEO David Harris in this edition of Take 5.
1. Ensemble Travel has had an incredible year. The latest stats from Ensemble’s annual conference indicated 8% year-over-year growth, with Preferred Supplier sales set to surpass the $1.4 billion mark. What sold exceptionally well in 2019, and how is the consortium looking to keep that momentum going in 2020?
“In 2019, our total volume as an organization (including air and non-preferred supplier activity by our members) exceeded $5 billion/year. 2019 was driven by sales across multiple suppliers in cruise, air and land. For 2020 and beyond, we anticipate this to continue as demand for travel and the services of professional advisors is not on the decline.”
2. Can you also talk to Ensemble’s growth in Canada specifically – how many agencies does Ensemble have in Canada now, and is it looking to expand its footprint in this market, or focus on growing sales from existing member agencies?
“Although we consider our company to be OneEnsemble, we are absolutely continuing to expand in the Canadian market, both in terms of members and sales growth. As of December 31, 2019, Ensemble had 335 member locations in Canada and 392 in the U.S. There are additions and deletions of members each year; however, 2019 was another year of growth for Ensemble in both countries (member locations and total sales).”
3. Ensemble is prioritizing sustainable travel, both for its clients and within its own operations. Can you tell us more about that?
“Several partnerships were announced at Ensemble’s 2019 International Conference in Seattle, all with the intent to further position our members as relevant, knowledgeable, and responsible travel advisors. One such partnership is with Cool Effect, a company that has reduced over one million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere through support from partners and individual contributions. Through our new partnership, Cool Effect’s Travel Offset Tool has been incorporated onto our platform for members to offset the carbon footprint of air travel. And, as the first consortium in the travel industry to make such a commitment, we offset our conference footprint through one of Cool Effect’s carbon reduction projects.
“At Ensemble, we believe it is important to lead our industry and set the example for other consortia to become similarly focused on carbon emissions. This is a topic we can collectively agree needs to be addressed, and I’m proud Ensemble has taken a leadership role in this regard.”
4. Ensemble recently completed a customer data and segmentation project with Environics Analytics. How will the results of that research figure into your strategy?
“This project has yielded significant insights that will be applied to our marketing and supplier relations initiatives. Our data-driven approach has helped to profile and personify seven core segments that we identified to drive revenue strategies with our supplier partners and to optimize our marketing spend.
“These insights have led to providing in-depth segmentation for our members’ client lists to enhance their marketing strategy. Personalization is effective because it is based on relevancy, and this project has enabled our members and supplier partners to improve the customer experience to foster loyalty, create a connection and drive revenue.”
5. What is the driving force behind Ensemble’s success?
“Ensemble has an incredibly talented and dedicated team of employees and members and, of course, numerous exceptional preferred supplier relationships. It is only the aggregated efforts of all these stakeholders and a commitment to our continuous improvement that is driving our success. We are not just optimistic – we are confident and excited for our next 50 years as we continue to refine, improve and strengthen our value proposition for every stakeholder.”