The move comes after careful analysis of the experiential travel marketplace and input from members across the US and Canada.
High price point and growth
'While each partner delivers unique features to our cruise portfolio, they all command a high price point and are in a growth mode by upgrading their respective fleets in the last year or so, both of which are key to our members’ success,' Ensemble co-president Libbie Rice said.
'We’ve been closely watching this market segment, especially the domestic river cruise side, and feel that the time is right for growing our partner base as more and more members are requesting the small ship and expedition type products,' Rice elaborated. 'We feel we’re strategically positioned to deliver this experience through our innovative marketing tools, multiple training platforms, targeted database intelligence and, most recently, with the addition of American Queen, Hurtigruten and Victory.'
Lines that value travel agents
'American Queen Steamboat Company greatly values our strong relationship with the travel agent community and is thrilled to partner with the prestigious Ensemble Travel Group. Exploring America’s scenic rivers and quaint river towns on board authentic paddlewheelers is more popular than ever and the Ensemble network of member agencies represents a client base consistent with our guests,' AQSC president and COO Ted Sykes said.
For Hurtigruten's part, 'We’re excited to work closely with Ensemble members as we expand our global footprint, especially as we introduce our two new hybrid powered expedition ships—MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen—and a collection of new itineraries, sure to please all levels of the adventure enthusiast,' said William Harber, Hurtigruten president, the Americas.
'Victory Cruise Lines is proud to have Ensemble as our first national travel agent account in North America. We believe Ensemble will be a great partner, as our high-end experiential product is best sold by knowledgeable travel consultants,' Hans Lagerweij, president and CEO, said. 'We offer attractive commissions on an all-inclusive product, and destination experiences in some of the fastest growing destinations in the world.'
Ensemble’s marketing initiatives that support the small ship, experiential segment include Ensemble Ezine, Extraordinary Experiences magazine, experiential newsletters and small ship and river cruise direct mail. Educational opportunities for members include Ensemble EXTRAORDINARY training, 'Happy Hour' training at the organization's annual conference, live webinars and ongoing one-on-one training via Ensemble’s business development team and other staff.
Ensemble is a member-owned organization of approximately 850 independent travel agencies in the US and Canada, with new expanded international presence in Australia/New Zealand. Travel sales total billions of dollars annually.