A double-presentation format that gives equal time to both experienced travel advisors and relative newbies is being deployed as part of a cross-country travel trade mission by the Ensemble Travel Group. Portions of the day-long Ensemble Connections conference are being presented according to these guidelines.
These two different educational tracks are defined as Track A for “Builders” – those with less than three years as a travel sales advisor – and Track B for “Growers” – those with three-plus years experience as an advisor.
During the one-day conference, Builders (Track A) will learn, for instance, how to create and establish their own personal branding, tagline and positioning statement, as well as how to determine a road map for building their businesses.
Track B attendees (Growers) are learning key techniques for influence and persuasion that will allow them close sales in ways that are positive and compelling. Another Track B session explores upcoming travel trends for the coming decade and the business opportunities that these reveal.
A good number of suppliers are also attending the Ensemble Connections events. They are meeting advisors in a round-table “speed dating” format with quick, info-dense presentations. There is also a trade show on the conference schedule, plus a lunch to keep energy levels up.
Suppliers include Air Canada Vacations, Cunard Line/Princess Cruises, Goway, Manulife, Paul Gauguin Cruises, WestJet Vacations, Big Five Tours & Expeditions, G Adventures, the Globus family of brands, Kensington Tours, Tauck, Tourcan Vacations, TravelBrands, Viking, Jordan Tourism Board North America, Windstar Cruises.
Others are AmaWaterways, American Queen Steamboat Company, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Israel Tourist Board, Lindblad Expeditions, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, Royal Caribbean International and Silversea Cruises.
Use of the same sort of Track A/Track B teaching format is envisioned for suppliers at future Ensemble Connections events, said Christie Newell, the senior director for meetings and events at Ensemble. They hope to enlist supplier participation in designing similar formats for presenting their products, she said.
Not surprisingly, the “elephant in the room” during the conference was the growing impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the business of travel bookings.
“This is a good time to come together with your peers and realize that you’re not alone, and that you can talk about the situation. We are trying to calm the hysteria a bit,” said Newell.
She suggested that customer fears of the virus were not so much grounded in the possibility of getting sick, but rather in the potential of being placed in quarantine for two weeks or more. The role of Ensemble to help its member advisors during the virus outbreak is being aired during the conference.
Turnouts have been strong at the Ensemble events in the first two weeks of the mission, with stops in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg. The tour will land in Oakville at the Oakville Conference Centre on March 11. And it will wrap up the trans-national tour in Toronto, at the Parkview Manor on March 12 before dropping south of the border for the U.S. leg of the tour.
The executive organizing staff at the recent Ensemble Connections conference in Vancouver included (l. to r.) Clare Burke, Christie Newell, Cheryl Babulal, Deidre Verigen and Cathy Varrecchia.