According to a recent survey of Ensemble Travel Group members in Canada and the US, 2014 will be a year of extraordinary growth for overall travel bookings with 72% of respondents expecting an increase compared to 2013.
And 2015 promises an even stronger finish as 84% forecast an increase in travel sales when compared to 2014 booking levels.
The findings are part of Ensemble Insights, an annual survey released each year during the organization’s conference in Palm Springs that analyzes the sales performance and projections of its North American membership. The 2014-15 Ensemble Insights Survey, conducted in early October, reflects input from more than 500 Ensemble Travel Group agents, managers, and owners in Canada and the US, representing a cross-section of business models and customer databases.
“We’re extremely excited to see these strong numbers for both this year and next for our members,” said Ensemble co-president Libbie Rice. “The results also indicate we’ve finally turned the corner and the economic downturn is behind us as nearly two-thirds indicated that business is returning to pre-recession – that is, prior to 2008 – levels based on their 2015 bookings to-date. That’s great news and a long time in coming.”
The Ensemble Insights survey results are in line with the growing consumer demand for the more experiential and adventure travel experience – a message that was heard throughout the 2014 Ensemble conference. When asked to indicate the top three emerging market segments for their agency, survey respondents named “adventure” and “culture/history” as two of their top three choices, with “family/multi-generational vacations as the number one response. Members also ranked the top five “hottest” destinations for their clients in 2015 as: Italy/Sicily, Australia, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Spain.
In other news, Ensemble announced a global expansion of the organization into the international market of Australia/New Zealand. Co-president Lindsay Pearlman announced the strategic move during the opening session of the organization’s conference.
According to Pearlman, the expansion to Australia/New Zealand was part of a three-year business plan and a natural progression for the member-owned co-operative.
“If you look at Ensemble from an organization perspective, first as a US player in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, then growing into Canada in the ‘80s, and finally as a true North American cooperative two or three years ago, our operating platform has become an ideal model for exporting,” said Pearlman, a seven-year veteran of Ensemble who, along with Libbie Rice, was appointed co-president in January 2011 when the organization launched its cross-border strategy.
Pictured are Trish Shepherd, new senior vice-president and general manager, Ensemble Australia/New Zealand), and Pearlman and Rice.