Ensemble Travel hosted 105 members for a day of in-depth learning in Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia last week. Vancouver was the second last stop after the show traveled through Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton, with Toronto still to come.
“When we were here last year, we told you that 2015 was the best year in Ensemble’s history, and that we beat those numbers in 2016," Ensemble’s Co-President Lindsay Pearlman said in his opening remarks. “Well, we’re still waiting for our final numbers for 2017, but I think we may beat 2016 as well!”
This is indeed good news for a consortium that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and its success is evident in the support of the agency members, as well as its preferred supplier partners - 33 of whom were in attendance at the EXTRAORDINARY event.
The day began with “Taking it to the Next Level”, presented by Ensemble’s National Training Manager Cathy Varrecchia. Attendees are reminded to adapt and thrive, and keep learning. “But let’s not just show up for events,” Varrecchia emphasized. “Stop, take something away from each presenter, utilize what you have learned to grow your business.”
An interactive review of social media followed, with excellent key tips:
- Social media is here to stay, agencies should use it to complement – but not replace - their existing marketing channels.
- But keep in mind - social media is where like-minded people exchange and share information – it is not a place to sell.
- Use social media to establish relationships with your audience first, and once they get to know you, they will buy from you.
- Don’t try to do everything and be everywhere. Choose one social media platform, master it and post meaningful content regularly.
- Although Facebook remains the most popular social media channel, Instagram is an excellent visual platform to promote travel.
- Understand who your audience is, then create a consistent message by posting relevant content, and don’t forget to engage with your audience.
Today’s clients – from boomers to millennials - are looking for experiential travel, they want customization and authentic encounters. Agents should embrace the services of Ensemble’s preferred partners, including the 90 On Location experts specializing in creating personalized itineraries that cannot be shopped. With experiential travel being the buzzword of the day, key sponsor partners Abercrombie & Kent, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, Lindblad Expeditions also addressed the group with each of their own customized niche programs, while Manulife reminded agents of the importance of selling insurance to cover their client’s investment in travel.
After lunch, agents learned from 14 suppliers in five-minute roundtable presentations which included airlines, resorts and tour operators. Additional breakout sessions from preferred cruise line partners provided product updates. Participants also had a chance to visit with suppliers at a mini trade show throughout the day.