Meeting Challenges & Looking To The Future With Ensemble Travel

with Ming Tappin

The Ensemble Team in Vancouver - (l-r) Desiree Rolle, Member Services Specialist; Cathy Varrecchia, National Training Manager; Cristie Newell, Director Training & Development & Clare Burke, Executive Assistant & Travel Coordinator

(l-r) Kay Jurgielewicz, Tracy Collinge and Wendy Lanphear(far right) from Travel Best Bets visit with Traci Farden of Azamara Club Cruises at the trade show.

Lorraine Stobbe of North South Travel with Peter Ouzounov & Allison Ramos of Globus family of brands.

Successful Ensemble members Art & Glenna Gillan & Jean Edmunds of Tri Star Travel & Cruise.

Peter Nowicki, Crystal Cruises; Lisa Willey, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises; Vikki Knudsen, Silversea & John O'Neill, Cruise Strategies representing Windstar Cruises at the trade show. 

The Ensemble Extraordinary event came through Vancouver last week for an intensive day of training and networking for its members. About 120 Owners, Managers and frontline agents attended the 8 hr. program held at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

The morning kicked off with a few words from Ensemble Co-President Lindsay Pearlman who acknowledged that after a successful 2015, 2016 certainly has its challenges. But it is times like these that Ensemble seizes the opportunity to bring training to its members, to get them ready for the turnaround that will surely come our way.

And there was training galore! In a presentation titled "Creating a Lifetime of Extraordinary Experiences", Ensemble's National Training Manager Cathy Varrecchia emphasized the need for agents to become trusted advisors and to foster long-term relationships with their clients to help them plan their dream vacations. Being a strategist, visionary and competent planner are keys to winning clients for life.

The learning continued throughout the morning with presentations from sponsor partners, followed by niche supplier exchanges rotating through tables speed-dating style. After lunch, attendees had a choice of specialty and luxury supplier presentations and the day finished with a cocktail party and trade show featuring all 30+ supplier partners.  

Ensemble clearly has many cheerleaders singing their praises. I met Glenna and Art Gillan, Owners of Tri Star Travel & Cruise from Kelowna, who couldn't say enough about the consortium. "They've been so good to us!" Glenna raved. The agency has been an Ensemble member for 16 years. As their agency specializes in small group travel, they find the On Location partners invaluable in customizing their groups' itineraries. They also take full advantage of Ensemble's marketing materials. "There is no way we could do any of this by ourselves or be this successful on on our own." 

Lorraine Stobbe of North South Travel was pumped after attending the eventful day. Cathy's lecture reminded her to encourage her clients to work on a bucket list and live life to its fullest, as well as following the same advice for herself. Meeting the niche travel partners was "enlightening" for her and the entire event gave her a big boost to face the ever changing world of travel.

Everyone else I spoke to echoed the same sentiments, expressing their appreciation for this wonderful learning experience. 2016 might start with challenges, but with the positive feedback and enthusiastic members, Ensemble is set to continue on the path of success for years to come.

Ming  Tappin is a cruise veteran with over 20 years’ experience in the industry and has sailed on 37 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is Owner of

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