So who are Ensemble Travel Group’s top travel agencies? The travel agency consortium, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, honored its top-producing members in the U.S. and Canada at the group’s annual Circle of Excellence Gala on Friday evening, during the 2018 Ensemble Travel Group International Conference at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar.
“The last three years have been the best in our history, which is quite impressive when you consider our half century of service,” said Ensemble Co-President Libbie Rice. “And we saw even greater returns in 2017, so congratulations to this circle of market leaders for pushing the bar to record-setting levels at Ensemble and for our preferred partners.”
The organization’s top producers in the U.S. based on 2017 sales of Ensemble preferred partners (in alphabetical order): AffordableTours.com of Stafford, Texas; Altair Travel & Cruises of St. Louis, Mo.; Crown Cruise Vacations of Princeton, N.J.; Goldrush Getaways of Citrus Heights, Calif.; Incentive Connection Travel Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz.; Professional Travel, Inc. of North Olmstead, Ohio; The Cruise Web of Calverton, Md.; Travel Network/Vacation Central of Englewood Cliffs, N.J.; Travel Planners International of Maitland, Fla.; and Uniglobe Travel Center of Irvine, Calif.
In addition, Ensemble’s Highest Growth Award went to the following U.S. agency members for achieving the highest year-over-year growth (regionally) based on 2017 preferred partner sales compared to 2016: MEI-Travel of Issaquah, Wash.; A Girl’s Gotta Go Travel of Cambridge, Mass.; The Travel Service of St. Simons Island, Ga.; and Jackson Travel Agency of Medford, Ore.
During Friday night’s gala Ensemble also announced the winner of the first annual “Warren Buckner Innovation Award” in honor of Warren Buckner, owner of Gayety Travel Service in Brooklyn, N.Y., who helped start GIANTS in 1968. The award exemplifies Buckner’s dedication to his core values over the last 50 years: creativity, integrity, and passion, perseverance in his commitment to his agency, industry and community, as well as his longevity as an Ensemble member. Buckner continues at the helm of his agency, in addition to serving as member emeritus of the Ensemble board of directors.
Earning the inaugural Warren Buckner Innovation Award was Kemp Travel Group of Ontario, Canada, and accepted was the mother-daughter team of Sheila and Erin Kemp. Their privately owned, family run full-service agency has been creating extraordinary travel experiences and delivering superior service to their customers for more than 30 years. A member of Ensemble for 15 years, the agency is a strong supporter of the group, participating in a variety of ways, including the program committee, conference panels, numerous training and events, sharing of best practices with other members, and ultimately achieving Ensemble Elite status for top producers.
The Kemps are not only savvy business owners, but are also committed to helping others as seen by their countless volunteer hours that extend across the globe to places like India where Erin helped distribute bed kits to children in need as part of the Sleeping Children Around the World global organization. They also are committed to their local Bowmanville Hospital Foundation, including the family’s recent $2 million gift in support of the facility’s redevelopment and expansion project.
In addition to Friday night’s awards, the following special member honors were presented at conference: The top U.S. Shareholder Engagement Award, based on a U.S. member’s participation and support of the organization’s events, technology, marketing, and specialty partners, was presented to Around the Globe Travel of Huntington Beach, Calif. The Above & Beyond Award,” based on U.S. members who exemplify many of Ensemble Travel Group’s core values of Integrity, purpose, passion, community/family, innovation and profit, was awarded to: ATB Travel of Lancaster, Calif.; Go Travel of Longwood, Fla.; Edgewood Travel of Savannah, Ga.; and Sea 4 Sail of Pleasanton, Calif.
Ensemble’s top producers in Canada based on 2017 sales of Ensemble preferred partners (in alphabetical order) are: Cruise Connections Canada Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C.; CruisePlus Management. Ltd of Lantzville, B.C. Escapes.ca of Vancouver, B.C.; Ixtapa Travel of Saskatoon, SK; Jubilee Tours & Travel Ltd. of Burnaby, B.C.; TierOne Travel Inc. of Calgary, Alberta; Travel Masters of Vancouver, B.C.; TravelOnly of Brantford, Ont..; Tully Luxury Travel of Mississauga, Ont.; and Ucruising of Unionville of Markham, Ont.
In addition, the Highest Growth Award went to the following Canadian members for achieving the highest year-over-year growth (regionally) based on 2017 preferred partner sales compared to 2016: Go Travel of Carstairs, Alberta; Romantic Planet Vacations of Burlington, Ont.; and The Unity Travel Shoppe of Unity, SK.
The Top Canadian Shareholder Engagement Award, based on a Canadian member’s participation and support of the organization’s events, technology, marketing, and specialty partners, was awarded to Cruise Vacations of Winnipeg. The Above & Beyond Award, based on Canadian members who exemplify many of Ensemble Travel Group’s core values of Integrity, purpose, passion, community/family, innovation and profit, was awarded to Direct Travel Service of Ponoka, Alberta; Prelude Travel of Kenora, Ont.; and Voyages 123GO of Blainville, QC.