Ensemble Wraps Up Inaugural Series of Extraordinary! Training Events
PHOTO: Ensemble Travel Group co-presidents Lindsay Pearlman (L) and Libbie Rice (R) shown with Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die. (Photo by Claudette Covey)
More than 220 agents participated in the U.S. rollout of Ensemble Travel Group’s Ensemble Extraordinary! training programs, which were designed to help them increase their sales of high-margin niche products.
Specifically, the three-day sessions, which took place in San Francisco and Garden Grove, Calif., and Jersey City, N.J., focused on the growing experiential-adventure niche. “Over the years, we have seen an incline in client interest in this type of product,” said Cristie Newell, director of training & development, North America at Ensemble Travel Group, who first developed the program for Ensemble’s Canada members in 2012. “It is accounting for some of the largest growth in sales.”
More than 20 Ensemble suppliers participated in the series, meeting with agents individually and in small groups. Kim Specht, Ensemble national training manager, gave a presentation on “Creating and Selling Extraordinary Experiences,’ which included information on Ensemble tools and programs designed to help agents better sell the experiential-adventure market. Patricia Schultz, author of “1,000 Places to See Before You Die,” served as the keynote speaker. The events culminated with trade shows and cocktail receptions.
“It is extremely important in today’s environment for agents to start to narrow their focus and begin to specialize in destinations and types of travel and stop being all things to all people if they want to sustain themselves as travel professionals,” said Newell. “Once they become knowledgeable in a niche, they can market themselves this way.”
Furthermore, she noted that consumers will not only seek out agents’ expertise, but pay for it. “They need to start moving away from focusing on mass-market product or products that are becoming commoditized as consumers are becoming more and more comfortable booking themselves,” said Newell. “Mass or commoditized products that are generic and readily available through numerous channels most often become price-driven as opposed to experience-based.”
Ensemble Extraordinary! is now its third year in Canada. “Ensemble Extraordinary! has been a success from the get-go when we launched it in Canada in 2012. And that’s from both a member and supplier perspective,” said Newell. “Feedback from both groups has been extremely positive and tells us that our blended format of formal presentations, small group dialogue and informal conversation is clearly working – so much so that several suppliers have already reported a flurry of inquiries and quote requests from members who attended Ensemble Extraordinary!”
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