Onsite Update From Ensemble's Annual Conference

TORONTO–On site at the Ensemble Travel Group's annual conference in Toronto on Friday, Travel Agent found that it appeared that the free ride Ensemble's Canadian membership has gotten to date on the point of dual membership was about to come to an end. Ensemble President and Chief Executive Officer Jack E. Mannix told Travel Agent that the consortium has not enforced the dual affiliation rule for Canadian membership so far, despite taking a tough stance on the topic with U.S. agencies. He said that when Ensemble imposed the rule in the U.S. three years ago, it didn't know enough about the potential effects on the Canadian market to take the same step in Canada. That should change, he said, perhaps as early as the third quarter of next year. "For the Canadian market, we've taken a softer stance because there was a few issues to address first, but you will see us move in the same direction (as in the U.S.). "Mary Tyler Moore's keynote address Friday morning didn't have much to do with travel, but the emotional talk rendered an insider's peek at her life, that, among other things, touched on the death of her son Ritchie and her battle with alcohol. It drew a standing ovation from the membership. Ensemble announced its Top 10 Producers at its Circle of Excellence Dinner Thursday night. They included (in alphabetical order): Alice Travel in Fairfield, NJ; All Cruise Travel of San Jose, CA; Ambassador Tours of San Francisco, CA; Cruise Value Center, East Brunswick, NJ; Hartford Holidays of Williston Park, NY; Montrose Travel Service of Montrose, CA; Nelson Custom Travel of Valley Village, CA; Pavlus Travel & Cruise of Albuquerque, NM; Travel of America of Covina, CA; and TravelStore of Los Angeles, CA. The consortium has signed up new suppliers to its preferred suppliers list. They include Alpine Adventures, G.A.P. Adventures, Live The West Vacations (dude ranches), Honeymoon Wishes Bridal Registry, SpaQuest, Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort in Ireland, Boscolo Luxury Hotel New York Palace in Budapest, and Jumeirah Essex House in New York. Ensemble also added a few names to its growing On Location program. New partners include Iceland Travel, TourTech International in Latin America, Paradise Tours in Tahiti, Abercrombie & Kent in Hong Kong and Asia, and Scandinavian Destination Services. "It's a great concept," says Bob Cook of Go Travel in Altamonte Spring, FL. "You hope this is the first step in combatting Grand Circle Tours' direct marketing to the consumer. It looks like it could be."