Ensemble: Demand high for customized vacations

Ensemble: Demand high for customized vacations

Demand for customized vacations and personal travel experiences
continues to grow, an Ensemble Travel Group survey shows. 

“While mainstream travel continues to be a vacation
staple, the customized bucket-list adventures that used to be ‘once in a
lifetime’ have now become ‘as often as I can’ and built around first-hand
immersion into the destination,” said Ensemble co-president Lindsay
Pearlman. 

The Ensemble Outlook Survey, which showcases responses from
nearly 2,000 Ensemble member advisors across the U.S. and Canada, was conducted
in September and released during the consortium’s annual conference last week. 

Requests for “tailor-made,” “active,”
and “adventure” vacations were among the leading demands made by
travelers for 2019. Interest in travel centered on food, wine and spirits has
been similarly robust, with “wine and spirits vacations,” “culinary-themed
cruises” and “hands-on cooking vacations” piquing recent
consumer interest.

Within the ocean cruise category, travelers are preferring “small
ship” experiences and “family” cruises. Ensemble members cited
strong sales for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea, Crystal, Seabourn and
Uniworld as well as lines with large ships that offer all-inclusive
experiences, such as the Grills with Cunard and the Haven with Norwegian Cruise
Line.

Interest in more intimate and hands-on vacations is helping
drive demand for river cruises. The survey listed the “ability to
experience smaller villages, towns and cities,” “smaller ships
carrying less than 200 passengers” and “good value for experience
received” as the top three reasons why travelers favored the segment.
Ensemble recently added four small operators — American Queen Steamboat
Company, Hurtigruten, Le Boat and Victory Cruise Lines — to its list of
preferred suppliers.

“People are looking for unique, boutique stuff,”
said Ensemble co-president Libbie Rice. “We had a demand for the American
rivers, so we brought on American Queen because we knew our members wanted that
and we didn’t have anything in that space. A lot of times we’re looking for
something that’s in a space that nobody else is in, whether that’s with the
geography or a unique product.”

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