Expanded luxury initiatives, emerging trends, and the strategic development of new market segments were among key topics discussed at the semi-annual Ensemble Travel Group National Marketing/Luxury Advisory Committee Meeting held from May 31-June 4, 2011, at Secrets Sanctuary Resort Cap Cana in the Dominican Republic. Major sponsors were Ensemble Travel Group partners AMResorts and Travel Impressions.
“Ensemble Travel Group's National Marketing/Luxury Advisory Committee is an important driver in our organization's competitive position in the marketplace,” said Carol Black, senior director of strategic marketing. “This dynamic group of regionally-diverse, proactive marketers represents the many different business models that strengthen and energize Ensemble. Throughout the years, the advisory committee has been instrumental in helping Ensemble continually deliver fresh, forward-thinking marketing initiatives to its members. This meeting in Punta Cana was certainly no exception.”
In addition to the collaborative business forums, Secrets Sanctuary created special events for the Ensemble agents, including a wine tasting and wine-pairing dinner hosted by Secret’s oenologist from Spain, a special cocktail reception and gourmet farewell dinner in its Capriccio restaurant – opened exclusively for the Ensemble event – as well as a hosted dinner at another AMResorts property, Zoetry Aqua Punta Cana.
The final day of the trip was dedicated to committee members and guests giving back to the destination through a local orphanage for boys ages 5-15. Thanks to the combined efforts of Ensemble Travel Group and committee members, the orphanage received approximately $5,000 in donations of new clothing, sheets and towels, toys, small kitchen appliances, and a washer and dryer. In addition, Ensemble partner Fairmont Hotels & Resorts donated new Adidas sneakers for all 17 of the boys.
“Our special day with the boys began with lunch at Wendy’s, which to them was like heaven-on-earth. One look at their faces as the bus arrived said it all! Members and kids alike had tears and huge smiles as the boys hopped off donning new outfits, caps, and of course Adidas sneakers!” said Ensemble’s Suzanne Hall, senior director of marketing and development/land products, who organized the major philanthropic effort, including an afternoon for everyone at the nearby Dolphin Explorer Animal Park. “Ensemble Travel Group feels very strongly that we have a responsibility to support communities that give so much to tourism. We felt like we really made a difference that day with ‘our boys’.”
This give-back philosophy is not new to Ensemble Travel Group. “In the cruise segment alone we introduced a ‘Leaving Your Legacy’ feature to our 2011 world cruise program,” explained Susan Gannon, senior director of marketing and development/cruise products. “These enhanced Ensemble Experience shore excursions allow members’ clients to deeply connect with the local cultures and people of the area. Based on the positive feedback from the hosts and guests so far, our 2012 world cruise program will feature a similar give-back experience.”
Ensemble Travel Group members participating in the National Marketing/Luxury Advisory Committee Meeting were Jerry Davis of Alice Travel, Jonathan Harper of East Town Travel, Peg Haskins of Viking Travel/The Cruise Shop, Jamie Hoff of Montrose Travel, Scott Kertes of Hartford Holidays Travel, Chuck Maida of All Seasons Travel, Karen McCrink of Atlas Travel International, Joan Novack of Majesty Travel, Lawton Roberts of Country Place Travel, Mary Ann Strasheim of Custom Cruises & Travel, Bob Romano of Fugazi Travel, Kate Urekew of Circles, Susan Weissberg of Wyllys Professional Travel, and Bob Zonies of Colony Travel. Also participating in the meeting were Ensemble Travel Group Co-President Libbie Rice and Internet Marketing Manager David Tam.