|"Power Up!" was the theme of this year's conference.|
Ensemble Travel Group wrapped its 2016 International Conference at the Manchester Grand Hyatt over the weekend, where it honored its top members and suppliers, as well as announced plans for the 2017 event.
On Friday evening, Ensemble honored its top-producing members in the U.S. at the annual Circle of Excellence Gala. The top producers in the U.S. based on 2015 sales of Ensemble preferred partners are:
- AffordableTours.com of Stafford, TX
- Alice Travel & Personality Tours of Fairfield, NJ
- Central Travel of Toledo, OH
- Crown Cruise Vacations of Princeton, NJ
- Go Travel Inc. of Longwood, FL
- Incentive Connection Travel Inc. of Phoenix, AZ
- Montrose Travel of Montrose, CA
- The Cruise Web of Calverton, MD
- Travel Network/Vacation Central of Englewood Cliffs, NJ
- Travel Planners International of Maitland, FL
In addition, the “Highest Growth Award” went to Atlas Travel Vacations & Cruises for achieving the highest year-over-year growth based on 2015 preferred partner sales compared to 2014. The “Agency Excellence Award,” based on member engagement of the organization’s events, technology, marketing, specialty partners, and express tools, was awarded to Air Sea Travel of Upland, CA. The “Digital Engagement Award,” a new category recognizing the highest engagement across Ensemble social channels, went to Vacations by Design@Hartford Holidays of Garden City, NY.
At the Circle of Excellence gala Ensemble also honored its top supplier partners as part of its annual awards program, which is based on member votes and input:
- 2016 Cruise Partner of the Year – Crystal Cruises
- 2016 Outstanding Agency Support (cruise) – Royal Caribbean International
- 2016 Outstanding Marketing Partner (cruise) – Holland America Line
- 2016 Tour Partner of the Year – Globus family of brands
- 2016 Outstanding Agency Support (tour) – Travel2
- 2016 Outstanding Marketing Partner (tour) – Delta Vacations
- 2016 Air Partner of the Year – Emirates
- 2016 Air Outstanding Agency Support – Delta Air Lines
- 2016 Business Services/Insurance Partner of the Year – AIG Travel
- 2016 Outstanding Agency Support (insurance) – Allianz Global Assistance
In addition, nine North American awards, reflecting the input of both U.S. and Canadian members, were announced at the Circle of Excellence gala:
- 2016 Transportation Partner of the Year – AvisBudget Group
- 2016 Transportation Outstanding Agency Support – Vitesse Worldwide
- 2016 Ensemble On Location Partner of the Year – TFL Tours (Italy)
- 2016 Hotel Partner of the Year – Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
- 2016 Hotel Marketing Partner of the Year – Fairmont Hotels and Resorts
- 2016 Cruise Specialty Partner of the Year – Paul Gauguin Cruises
- 2016 Land Specialty Partner of the Year – Rocky Mountaineer
- 2016 River Cruise Partner of the Year – Avalon Waterways
- 2016 Experiential/Adventure Partner of the Year – Kensington Tours
Members based their selections on three key performance areas: quality of customer service (timeliness and accuracy of communications and documentation, ease of the booking process, and overall problem solving), level of agency support (local sales rep, co-op funds, group support, marketing guidance, product training, and commitment to agency sales channel), and client satisfaction (product delivery, fulfillment of client expectations, and repeat bookings).
In addition to the annual recognition program, Ensemble Travel Group officials use the member feedback as a tool for ongoing supplier dialogue and benchmarking purposes, Ensemble said.
2017 Ensemble Travel Group International Conference
Finally, Ensemble closed out this year’s event with the announcement that the 2017 international conference, set for October 16 through 20, will be held at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
Ensemble’s closing party in 2017 will be held at AT&T Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys and the world’s largest video board, where dinner will be held directly on the iconic football field. This year’s farewell party in San Diego was held aboard the U.S.S. Midway, where Ensemble had full run of the aircraft carrier.
Other major Ensemble recognition and training events next year for U.S. members include:
Ensemble Top Producers Celebration
The 2017 Ensemble Top Producers Celebration will be a Norse Legends seven-day sailing aboard Holland America Line’s Koningsdam from June 4-11. Roundtrip from Amsterdam, the awards cruise includes a number of customized sight-seeing activities and private dinners and receptions. This annual event, which recognizes the organization’s top-producing members in the U.S. and Canada, also includes business activities with Ensemble executives and supplier sponsors. Selection is based on members’ 2016 sales performance with Ensemble Travel Group’s preferred partners.
Ensemble Executive Retreat
The 2017 Ensemble Executive Retreat for U.S. members will be held March 9-12 at Wild Dunes Resort in Isle of Palms, SC. The multi-day event is designed for Ensemble agency owner/managers to zero in on growing their business, Ensemble said. The annual educational retreat will focus on the “Art of Leadership, The Science of Management” and will be conducted by the leading training and development company, 2logical. Participants will learn how to effectively coach their team members on the critical skills/processes/best practices of their respective roles, while also mentoring them on the core beliefs and overall mindset that has consistently produced peak performance. The program also has several business meetings, one-on-one sessions with participating preferred partners, team-building activities, and a number of social events.
Ensemble EXTRAORDINARY! and Owner/Manager Meeting
This series of one-day business and educational events for U.S. members begins with an interactive training session designed for frontline agents to gain a greater knowledge of select experiential, bucket-list destinations and higher-margin products from a number of Ensemble’s luxury, niche, and specialty partners. Following a networking reception, Ensemble owner/managers will hear from Co-President Libbie Rice and Vice President Don Kennedy as they provide a financial and program update for the organization. The schedule is as follows:
- May 1 – Newark Liberty International Airport Marriott
- May 9 – Chicago O’Hare Hilton Hotel
- May 11 – Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld
- May 23 – Grand Hyatt San Francisco
- May 25 – Hyatt Regency Orange County (CA)