Ensemble kicks off seven-city training program in Edmonton

TORONTO — Ensemble Travel Group kicked off its second annual ‘Ensemble Extraordinary’ training program last month at the Matrix Hotel in Edmonton.

The first stop in a seven-city, sold-out tour this year, Ensemble Extraordinary is designed for Ensemble members who are interested in growing their sales of high-margin, niche products with a select group of Ensemble preferred partners.

“In taking a look at the direction of what our members are selling, clearly the high-yield, bucket-list type of experiential travel is huge right now,” said Ensemble’s Cristie Newell, director of training & development, North America.

“Through Ensemble Extraordinary and its narrowed focus on the niche product line, our members have easy access to these boutique partners on an all-important face-to-face basis. Even some of our mainstream suppliers are participating, but only with a more targeted product approach.”

Each half-day training session begins with an educational component featuring selected Ensemble tools and programs specifically geared towards this market. Among the tools presented by Cathy Varrecchia, Ensemble national training manager, are Ensemble Luxe Life (VIP service with unique access to the most highly desirable events and experiences worldwide), Ensemble Learning Journeys (specialist program targeting the lucrative education market), Tour de Forks (boutique culinary travel company), the Ensemble Hotel & Resort Collection and the Ensemble On Location program.

A two-hour ‘Supplier Training Sprint’ follows where 18 niche and luxury partners individually showcase their specialty product line. Suppliers are divided into two groups and members select which partners are most relevant to them based on their business mix and clients’ needs. Just prior to the training sprint, all partners introduce themselves and their points of differentiation before the entire agent audience to help match members with the most appropriate supplier group.

A trade show and sit-down dinner wrap up the training program.

“2014 marks the second year for Ensemble Extraordinary and both have been sell-outs from a member perspective,” said Newell. “And because of the huge success in 2013, it’s really caught fire with our partners, too. Unfortunately, we ended up having to turn some away this year.”

Overall sponsors for all seven training sessions include Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Tourism New Zealand, Lindblad Expeditions, RBC/Manulife and Silversea Cruises. Additionally, among those niche partners participating in the training event: Orient-Express Hotels Limited, Iceland Travel Inc., Travel Indochina, and Paul Gaugin Cruises.

Along with the Ensemble Extraordinary in Edmonton, member training programs are set for: Calgary last night at The Botanical Garden, Calgary Zoo; Vancouver on Feb. 27 at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia; Toronto East on March 4 at the Estates at Sunnybrook; Toronto West on March 5 at Oakville Harbour Banquet Hall; Winnipeg on March 6 at Inn at the Forks and Montreal on Dec. 10 at a downtown location TBD.