With an overall theme of “travel with purpose,” the Ensemble Travel Group kicked off its annual international conference, held this year in Seattle.
Ensemble group retailers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States gathered at the Hyatt Regency Seattle for the four-day event, during which member agents engaged in numerous training sessions.
But before they did, they listened to a keynote welcome speech by Ensemble CEO David Harris, who confirmed that “travelling with purpose” is a type of travel that is being encouraged and prioritized by the group.
“We’re all aware that climate and sustainability are fast becoming the biggest issues across the globe,” said Harris. “With people making more than seven billion trips annually, sustainability is increasingly impacting our industry.”
Harris acknowledged that a sustainability agenda or priority for a travel agency business plan isn’t always possible.
“I’m not suggesting we direct all our clients to sail across the Atlantic on zero-emissions yachts. But we’ve all booked trips to places that have seen the good and bad affects of tourism. We know the beauty and attraction of those places… but also the impact travellers have on that beauty.”
The bottom line, said Harris, was, “while we can’t solve every problem, our business impacts the environmental and social sustainability of these places… and we have a responsibility to be mindful of that.”
The business outlook for the Ensemble collective is bright, as 2018 was the best year in the company’s 50-year history. He said that preferred supplier sales from its members would eclipse $1.4 billion, representing an 8% year-over-year growth.
Harris focused on a few travel industry trends, saying for example, that “for travel, data is huge. Almost all of our suppliers… hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and tourism boards… are focusing on data and how they can use it to improve their product and support their customer relations.”
He said being aware of relevant data and putting it to good use in travel sales and marketing is increasingly necessary.
Pictured, Ensemble Travel Group CEO David Harris takes the stage at the start of the Ensemble annual international conference.