The dictionary says that ensemble means “all the parts of a thing taken together” and togetherness is a huge part of the consortium’s annual conference, held this past year in San Diego.
But, the conference isn’t just about learning and networking with suppliers and fellow Ensemble managers and agents, who usually number about 1,000 attendees from across Canada and the U.S. “It’s also our annual fundraising effort,” says Chris Lackstrom, Ensemble Canada’s Senior Director of Supplier & Market Development. “For the past 6 yr. we have raised funds for Make-A-Wish, a charity which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.” The 1`st year, the group raised $65,000 (all sums in USD) auctioning off trips to conference attendees. This year alone the grand total was a whopping $152,000.
“Every year I panic, wondering if we are going to make it. These are travel people buying travel! But it’s a good cause – one year we even had a supplier buy a trip to Tahiti. It’s amazing how they step up.
As well as auctioning travel items including contributions from Canadian suppliers such as Sunwing and Porter, members have been starting to make cash donations to Make-A-Wish at the conference – including one this year for an impressive $8,000.
The annual conference is held in October and Ensemble’s U.S. and Canadian offices start approaching suppliers in August, getting the donations and all the rules and regs in place. As Lackstrom puts it, “It’s all hands on deck.”
The money always goes to the local chapter of Make-A-Wish. A family from the San Diego chapter attended the gala evening, sharing how they had recently had their wish granted, a weeklong trip during which, “We didn’t have to worry about hospitals”.
Lackstrom was careful to mention that a lot of Ensemble offices also do their own fundraising locally during the year. But with over $600,000 raised for Make-A-Wish over the past 6 years it’s clear that this is a major effort and contribution. And, as she says, “It’s really a fun way to raise money.”
A “big cheque” indeed: by the time the final tally was in, Ensemble had donated $152,000 to Make-A-Wish in San Diego. Lindsay Pearlman and Chris Lackstrom are pictured 3rd & 2nd from right.