‘FASTForward on the Shoulders of GIANTS’ shows Ensemble’s past and future

‘FASTForward on the Shoulders of GIANTS’ shows Ensemble’s past and future

NASSAU — More than three-quarters of Ensemble agents says they expect their total bookings to increase in 2018 year-over-year and 78% report a strong outlook for 2019, according to agent survey results released this week at Ensemble Travel Group’s 2018 conference, ‘FASTForward on the Shoulders of GIANTS’.

The Ensemble Outlook Survey, conducted in September 2018 and based on input from nearly 2,000 Ensemble member advisors in the U.S. and Canada, showed 77% of the respondents expecting total travel bookings to increase, 21% by 25% or more and 56% by 5 – 24%.

Some 15% said they expect sales to be about the same year over year, while 5% said sales will be down 5 – 24% and 3% said sales will be down by 25% or more.

Europe, ocean cruise, river cruise and land bookings are all coming in strong.

Ensemble Co-Presidents Lindsay Pearlman and Libbie Rice wove the ‘FASTForward on the Shoulders of GIANTS’ conference theme through a mix of videos and motifs during the opening general session of the conference, taking place at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in the Bahamas.

‘FASTForward on the Shoulders of GIANTS’ shows Ensemble’s past and future

Ensemble Co-Presidents Lindsay Pearlman and Libbie Rice

“The theme not only allows us to go back in time but also to explore how those early days have provided a very strong foundation for our success both today and tomorrow,” said Pearlman during the annual state of the organization address.

Speaking before an audience of approximately 900 members, suppliers, and guests, Pearlman and Rice’s speech focused on technology, intelligence, marketing, and evolution and the related progress made to-date as well as future initiatives.

Also at the opening session Ensemble welcomed 15 new preferred partners including Goway Travel and cruise lines American Queen Steamboat Company, Hurtigruten, Le Boat and Victory Cruise Lines.

Driving the organization’s marketing strategy heading into 2019 is a greater focus on personalization, positioning, and call-to-action.

“The new marketing mindset is built around even greater agency personalization and call to action,” said Pearlman. “Content is written to create an emotional connection between the traveller, the travel advisor and the travel experience. And that bond is what makes the customer feel special, taken care of, and most importantly coming back to you.”

Additional marketing initiatives announced at conference included:

  • Marketing Resource Center: This online hub will be the go-to place for members to access a library of valuable reference materials and tips via the Ensemble Extranet.
  • The Traveler’s Table: In response to the growing popularity of food-driven vacations, Ensemble is publishing a new luxury magazine, The Traveler’s Table, for its U.S. members. The magazine is modeled after the popular culinary specialist program and magazine, Bon Vivant, which was introduced for Canadian members in 2009.
  • Peer-Based Mentoring Program: The brainchild of the U.S. Marketing Committee, committee members can assist colleagues in better understanding Ensemble marketing programs and helping their colleagues take full advantage of them, with a member-to-member approach.
  • E-Newsletters: The three weekly e-communications (cruise; hotel; and land and air) are being redesigned to become more visually engaging as well as making it easier to sort and search on the spot.
  • Ensemble Unforgettable Escapes: Launched in August 2018, this multi-channel tactic integrates three different media customized with a member’s agency information: targeted direct mail, targeted email, and an Unforgettable Escapes microsite with the member’s own unique URL.

Soon after the conference wraps up members will also be looking out for ‘Ensemble Insights’, transforming customized monthly infometrics reports into an interactive analysis housed on the Ensemble Extranet. The information outlines members’ performance in three key areas: with preferreds, where they’re trending, and their ranking within Ensemble. The new design will allow members to search by date range, suppliers, product, and locations, which paves the way for more in-depth discussions within their agency as well as with their business development director.

Looking ahead, Ensemble Insights will also include a ‘next tier’ performance report, which will highlight a member’s current commission level with a specific supplier and what it will take in terms of additional revenue for them to reach the next higher threshold.