New tools and marketing support are featured in Ensemble Travel Group's expanded Aussie Specialist Program - an expansion of the organization’s successful South Pacific Specialist Program launched in 2010. The program seeks to position members as leading destination authorities and to drive qualified leads to the members.
While Australia has always been part of the original destinations that make up the certification program (along with Fiji and Tahiti), Ensemble says it is further strengthening its partnership with Tourism Australia, Qantas Airways, and Qantas Vacations for this single-destination focus. Ensemble wants to increase the breadth and depth of tools and services provided for participating agents.
Among the new initiatives for U.S. and Canadian members: a dedicated website (www.aussieexperiences.com) and micro-site, increased social media efforts, and an expanded collection of print and online materials.
“You ask people, young and old, and Australia is most likely on their must-see list,” said Ensemble Travel Group’s Suzanne Hall, senior director, marketing and development/land products. “With research showing that more than half the travelers use a travel agent for this long-haul trip and that 47 percent are repeat customers, it makes good business sense for us to ramp up our focus for members on this destination.”
Ensemble said its three partners understand the value and influence that a certified travel expert can bring to the table. “We believe in the travel agent distribution channel, especially when it comes to growing our visitor count each year,” said Tourism Australia’s Daryl Hudson, vice president, The Americas. “What’s more, the most efficient way to reach the right customer is through an agency network that has invested in the product and destination knowledge for its members. Because of Ensemble Travel Group’s marketing expertise and our similar approaches to identifying and targeting customers, we felt that Ensemble could really deliver the clients.”
In addition to ongoing training sessions and course work, agent communications, and familiarization trips, the Ensemble Aussie Specialist program includes:
Website – www.aussieexperiences.com – the content-rich consumer-facing portal is broken down by region and experience and supported by related travel offers. A discover tab connects visitors to a live events calendar and restaurant guide, both powered by Frommers. A “best of” section showcases the ultimate in popular activities such as beaches, dive sites, and outdoor activities. The home page features an engaging blog, written by an Aussie native and updated at least weekly. A travel agent locator allows visitors to connect with an Ensemble specialist based on IP address or location. A micro-site version is also located on each specialist’s site and highlights that particular agent’s destination expertise.
Print marketing – Australia will be showcased in the spring issue of Ensemble’s publication, Ensemble Lifestyles, in the U.S., and in an upcoming edition of the food and wine lovers’ magazine, Bon Vivant, in Canada. In addition, a series of print mailers designed to speak to younger, active travelers, multi-generationals, and food and wine enthusiasts has been developed in-house for the Aussie Specialist program.
E-marketing – Ensemble specialists have access to an expanded collection of direct-to-consumer and customize-and-forward emails “shrinkwrapped” and ready to go to clients and prospects. In addition, the popular Ensemble E-zine, a monthly online destination-focused magazine, will feature all-things Australia in February, including features, offers, and video.
Social media – Strategically targeted advertising on Facebook and Google, along with vetted media partners, are three distinct ways the program will drive traffic to the Aussie Experiences website and Ensemble’s certified specialists.
“My Aussie Experience” contest – Continuing the success of the Ensemble South Pacific Specialist Program’s series of photo-story contests, My Aussie Experience will offer a $12,000 prize for the winning entry that best describes the ultimate experience Down Under.
Ensemble members give high marks to the program, Ensemble says, quoting Hank and Roxanne Boryczki of AZ Trails Travel in Fountain Hills, AZ, who say the Aussie Specialist program has given them the ability to sell the destination with confidence, as well as the knowledge to upsell the product.
“We learned so much from the educational lessons and FAM. There’s nothing like experiencing the destination first-hand – especially a country as diverse as Australia,” said Hank. “The new collateral materials and micro-site are great tools for the coming year. They will help us put Australia top-of-mind for our clients in ways we could never do on our own.”