Over 900 travel agency owners, managers and supplier partners filled the main ballroom at the Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate this week for the presentation of the Ensemble Travel Group’s Circle of Excellence Awards.
The large gathering of travel professionals were taking a well-dressed and well-deserved break from three days of conference networking and education organized by the travel consortium.
They were on hand to witness a parade of award winners, and to participate if they were chosen for recognition. For instance, the top 10 earning agencies from both the US and Canada were recognized with awards.
“It is absolutely worth it to attend the conference, so we can be updated on the latest support programs,” said Veronica Kerr, destination specialist at Bullas Travel in Kitchener, ON. She noted that her agency had been members of the consortium for 25 years, and that Ensemble support staff response to their queries had always been quick and effective.
Kerr said she was pleased to see that Canadians had continued to attend the conference in strength, given that the unfavourable exchange rate on the Canadian dollar was adding about 30% to expenses.
And the big turnout by both American and Canadian agency members is key to maintaining supplier support of Ensemble and participation in the conference, she said.
This was indicated by an impressive line-up of travel packages that were donated to the conference by suppliers for auctioning to attendees, with the proceeds being forwarded to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
During the working days before and after the conference, agents took part in numerous Ensemble program support presentations and supplier product education sessions, as well as two supplier trade shows. For instance, agents were keen to learn that Ensemble would be launching “Aviate,” a new agency air ticketing platform unlike any booking tool in the marketplace today, says the agency group.
“The original plan for the air ticketing platform was for use by our new members in Australia/New Zealand,” said Lindsay Pearlman. “But as the air platform evolved, it became clear that it had a far greater reach than just Australia and New Zealand. In fact, it presented an opportunity that allowed us to leverage our global infrastructure with an accelerated approach to benefit our entire North American members as well.”
Libbie Rice calls Aviate a “game changer.” With the advancements only accessible through Aviate, members are in control of the PNR and can access private fares, says Ensemble. “Plus, the fact that they can earn higher commissions speaks volumes about its profitability.”
In the photo: WestJet Vacations were winners of a suppliers award at the Ensemble Travel Group Circle of Excellence Awards in Orlando this week. Presenting the award were Ensemble co-presidents Libbie Rice (l.) and Lindsay Pearlman (r.), and accepting were Denis Parry, GM of Westjet Vacations group business, and Shannon Cunningham, agency sales manager for WestJet and WestJet Vacations.