with Carl Schmitt, V.P., CMO of Ensemble Travel Group

Open Jaw

You’ve got such a varied background – but this is your first foray into travel. How are you finding it? Yes my background is very diverse, from skin care to brand consulting, but there are a lot of parallels, working with small businesses and connecting them with third party suppliers. I started with Avon where everything revolved around the representative so there are definitely parallels!

How are you coping with the travel industry lingo? I’m keeping a little book of acronyms!

You’re based in New York – have you always lived in there?  Yes, in the New York area, apart from a few years in Vermont. I commute into the city by train, about 90 minutes each way from my home in Connecticut, which seems a world away.

How many people work at the Ensemble offices?  We have about 30 in New York and about 20 in Canada.

What’s the best part of the job so far?  The people, absolutely. Hardworking, smart, really open to collaboration.  

What did you want to be as a kid?  A Formula One race car driver. I’m a great car racing fan and even enjoy the vintage car races in Connecticut.

What was your first ever job? Flipping burgers at McDonalds.

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Parachuting, without a doubt. Would I do it again?  You bet!

Any guilty pleasures?  Oh yes – spectator sports and seeing them in person.

What’s your favourite airline? I don’t really have one. I’ve enjoyed the service on Virgin, and domestically on Delta. It’s a hard one to choose.

Favourite hotel chain? Fairmont, hands down. I’ve had the good fortune to stay at many. Great service and locations.   

What’s on your tablet? A lot of podcasts – thanks to my commute – and music. I really like Nils Frahm, who does experimental stuff like an orchestral piece involving toilet brushes and a piano. It’s fantastic – you should check it out!

What do people not know about you? That I’ve rappelled from helicopters.

Any hobbies or interests? I’m a hockey goalie on a few different teams.  And I love to read, both fiction and non-fiction.

Apart from something to eat, what was the last thing you bought? A piece of art in Portland, Maine. Every time we go somewhere my wife and I try to buy some art.

What would you tell your 20 year old self? Constantly pursue knowledge and try to learn something every single day.

Who do you most admire in the industry? I recently met Frank Del Rio, CEO of NCL Holdings, and was very impressed by him.

What skill or talent do you admire in someone?  The ability to pitch a ball at over 100 mph, consistently. That’s impressive!

What’s at the top of your bucket list? Dog-sledding in the arctic. That would really do it.

Ever had a brush with fame? I have, many times. I actually developed a brand for Selma Hayek. Very down to earth and personable and smart.

What keeps you awake at night?  I sleep really well! All I need is 5 hours.

How do you stay fit when you travel?  I have an in-room workout routine believe it or not. It’s challenging for sure.

If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be? Awareness of the value of travel agents. By far.

If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight, who would it be? Author and thinker Malcolm Gladwell.

Do you have a favourite charity?  Make-a-Wish.

What will be the biggest challenge for the industry in the next 12 months? I firmly feel it’s the merging of technology and the human connection.  There’s too much information out there and people want to go to another person.

What do you hope to be doing in 10 years?  Definitely travelling with my wife. She deserves it and I want to show her the world!  

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