At last week’s ONEnsemble Virtual Conference, the focus was on looking forward and helping advisors restart and recover following a challenging year as a result of COVID-19.
“Our comprehensive recovery campaign, Mission Restart: Recover Stronger is really about helping our members reboot their businesses and re-market their true differentiators,” stated David Harris, CEO of Ensemble Travel Group. “Even more so in a post COVID world, advisors roles will be even more important as consumers know they are there for them if or when there is an issue. They know that if something goes wrong, they will move heaven and earth to make it right. They know to how different that makes them from a big, impersonal, behemoth OTA. Our new campaign focuses on reinforcing these differentiators for clients everywhere.”
ONEnsemble Virtual – which was attended by more than 1,500 participants shattering the previous record of 1000 - featured both live sessions and speakers from a custom designed virtual studio as well as pre-taped sessions along with breakouts and “Zoom rooms.”
Among the highlights included Keynote Speaker Vernice Armour – aka FlyGirl - the first African American combat pilot in the U.S. whose inspirational remarks focused on how advisors can take action now in order to create calm in the midst of chaos and to come out of this challenging period transformed and more resilient than ever.
Other highlights of main stage sessions included:
- Ready, Set Sail – This live session featured presidents from leading cruise companies including Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, Gary Murphy, Senior VP, Sales and Co-Owner of AmaWaterways, Jason Montague, president and CEO of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and Gus Antorcha, president of Holland America. They agreed that the vaccines provided light at the end of the tunnel and all agreed that health, safety and working together as an industry with the CDC was key to building confidence with consumers.
- Sustainable Tourism and the Future of Travel - Moderated by sustainable travel expert Costas Christ and featuring an exclusive conversation with Brett Tollman, CEO of The Travel Corporation, this session focused on how the pandemic has affected sustainable travel, why it matters and how the industry can and must continue to take steps to promote responsible travel.
- The Power of Partnerships: Is It Time To Rethink the Commission Model? – This session focused on how COVID-19 has impacted the relationship between suppliers and advisors from commissions to booking procedures and protocols. Some of the focus turned to an always controversial issue in the agency community: early payment of commissions. Paula Hayes, VP of Sales for Globus family of brands said the company is offering commissions on deposits or full payments in advance. Early commissions on 2021 bookings began in mid-August, and the policy has been extended through Feb. 28. If agencies' cash flow situation doesn't get better by then, Globus will consider extending it further.
- The New Travel Journey – Travel writer and television host Oneika Raymond hosted a session on how virtually every type of travel experience has changed and what advisors should consider and know before booking travel for their clients.
In sharing Ensemble’s Top 10 Members based on 2019 sales in the US and Canada and acknowledge their tremendous contribution, Harris announced the top team in Canada was the The Travel Agent Next Door.
Harris also announced that Ensemble would have their conference in Las Vegas from August 23-27 at the Harrah’s Casino Hotel and Caesar’s Forum.
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