Ensemble Co-Presidents Lindsay Pearlman and Libbie Rice at the opening session of Ensemble Travel's convention in Colorado Springs.
A recent survey of Ensemble Travel Group members in the U.S. and Canada sees 2013 to be a banner year for overall travel bookings with nearly 60 percent of respondents expecting an increase compared to 2012. Ensemble's survey - released during Ensemble's conference in Colorado Springs - also suggests 2014 appears to be even better as more than 85 percent forecast an increase in travel sales next year.
The findings are part of Ensemble Insights, an annual survey released each year during the organization’s conference that analyzes the sales performance and projections of its North American membership. The 2013-14 Ensemble Insights Survey, conducted in early October, reflects input from more than 1,700 Ensemble Travel Group agents, managers, and owners in the U.S. and Canada, representing a cross-section of business models and customer databases.
“Based on this feedback and other critical business indicators, we’re pleased with 2013, but optimistic how 2014 is shaping up,” said Ensemble Co-President Lindsay Pearlman. “And, while the economic recovery is certainly fueling our positive forecast, Ensemble’s new technology platforms and marketing initiatives should also go a long way in turning those projections into reality for our members in the coming year.”
In the cruise segment, nearly 60 percent of the respondents expect an increase in overall bookings in 2014 compared to 2013, with the largest growth expected in the premium and luxury categories, at 53 percent and 36 percent, respectively.
River cruises will continue to be hot as 88 percent of the members surveyed expect bookings to increase in 2014. Two factors driving their popularity: the unique and up-close feel of the ports of call and the excitement of something new and different for experienced ocean-cruise passengers.
In the land segment, 77 percent of members surveyed expect 2014 bookings to be up compared to 2013, with the largest growth expected in FITs and groups at 46 percent and 35 percent, respectively.
Nearly 70 percent of respondents said the Ensemble Hotel & Resort Program and associated exclusive amenities help them close a sale and add to their agency’s bottom line.
In other survey results:
• Regarding Europe 2013 compared to 2012: 45 percent expect an increase; 17 percent a decrease; and 38 percent unchanged. For 2014 compared to 2013: 64 percent expect an increase; 4 percent a decrease; and 32 percent unchanged;
• Regarding travel insurance 2014 compared to 2013, 65 percent expect an increase; 9 percent decrease; and 26 percent unchanged;
• Regarding marketing effectiveness, the top three most valuable marketing tools for reaching clients (except for client referrals): email, print magazine/publications, and agency website/direct mail (tie).