The Ensemble Travel Group kicked off its annual conference in Palm Springs, CA over the weekend with the announcement of a global expansion that will see its launch into Australia and New Zealand.
This is the group’s first foray outside of the U.S. and Canada.
Co-presidents Lindsay Pearlman and Libbie Rice shared the news with more than 900 members, partners and guests during a General Session on Sunday afternoon.
“If you look at Ensemble from an organization perspective, first as a U.S. player in the late ‘60s and ‘70s, then growing into Canada in the ‘80s, and finally as a true North American cooperative two or three years ago, our operating platform has become an ideal model for exporting,” Pearlman said.
“Couple Ensemble’s ‘nimbleness’ with what is happening in Australia/New Zealand from a travel agency consortia angle, and everything just seems to be in sync for our international expansion. It is all about being in the right place at the right time, and most importantly with the right business model and people, and Ensemble Australia/New Zealand is born.”
The new initiative will be headed by Trish Shepherd as senior vice-president and general manager, an industry veteran who spent the majority of her career with American Express Travel Network where she served as regional director, and led the franchise model development and significant expansion through Australia, New Zealand, & the Asia Pacific region.
Taking the stage, Shepherd expressed her confidence in the need for Ensemble’s model in this corner of the globe, especially as Australians make up some of the leading travellers. In fact, 30 per cent of Australians travel outside of the country every year, a statistic that has doubled in the past decade.
“When we started to look at the current travel landscape in Australia and New Zealand, my team and I started to realize the breadth of opportunity within that market to create a new type of agent-supplier focused program, which puts the needs of its members at the heart of the relationship,” she explained, noting that attributes of Ensemble such as its integrity, transparency, support programs and buying power made it a perfect fit.
Shepherd and her team will be working to assemble top agency groups and independent owners in the region who “are forward-thinkers and looking for real value for their investment.”
“We want members who are hungry to be the market leaders, and want to achieve a higher level of success in this industry,” she said. “Ensemble members tend to be stronger and outperform their peers in Canada and the U.S. We want to bring that same opportunity to Australia/New Zealand.”