“We’re the first consortia to introduce an offset tool,” said Ensemble Travel Group’s CEO David Harris proudly when announcing the travel group’s new partnership with Cool Effect, a Bay Area-based non-profit focused on fighting the climate crisis. The announcement, which took place during this morning’s general session at the 2019 Ensemble International Conference, whose theme this year is Travel With Purpose and which is taking place in Seattle, was followed by a resounding round of applause from the Ensemble members in the audience.
The partnership kicks off with Ensemble offsetting its carbon footprint with Cool Effect for the 2019 International Conference. Ensemble will offset all attendee travel and the footprint of the conference through Cool Effect’s Jacunda Forest Reserve carbon reduction project based in Brazil. The project protects carbon-sequestering rubber trees in the Amazon rainforest while providing jobs to the local community.
In addition, Cool Effect assisted Ensemble in seamlessly integrating the Travel Offset Tool into their site for their members to easily offset the carbon footprint of air travel. The tool will be made available to the Ensemble members in the next few weeks.
“Travel takes an incredible toll on our planet and it’s important that we do our part in leading this industry to making more sustainable decisions,” said Harris. “We’re thrilled to ensure our conference is carbon neutral, as well as offer Cool Effect’s Travel Offset Tool on our platform moving forward. This will allow our network of thousands of advisors to make offsetting travel a seamless and easy process for our travelers.”
“Ensemble is blazing an entire new trail in the travel industry—the way Ensemble took action to get this done and to get the message out there so quickly. It’s catalyst like this that creates change,” said Cool Effect’s director of marketing Jodi Manning during a press conference following the announcement. Adding that, “Air travel alone is projected to hit one billion tonnes in 2020.” One of the ways travelers can be more sustainable when booking flights, she said, is by “looking for airlines that use biofuels; packing light; carrying a water bottle; and considering the vegetarian option while on board the flight.”
Speaking with travel advisors after the announcement, the excitement over the new tool was palpable. “I’m super impressed that Ensemble is taking the lead on such an important issue and making it available to agency members and to our consumers,” said travel advisor Terri Jo Lennox, CTC, president of Travel Time Inc. “I want to give some credit to David [Harris] for being forward-thinking, stepping up and leading the way for all of us with this. It’s an example for us to follow.”
Travel advisor Susan Mercredit, CTC, president of Top of the World, added that, “this is a game changer for us. We have a responsibility as a travel advisor, and we need to shift our thinking. I feel strongly that Ensemble as a whole will have the opportunity to make a difference and I’m excited about that. I’m very proud to be an Ensemble member and be a part of this.”
Pledge to Travel with Care
To add to its green initiatives, Ensemble also made the announcement that it is partnering with Travel Care Code, a group of academics and marketing professionals dedicated to promoting sustainable tourism locally, nationally, and internationally.
“There’s lot of information available to help travel advisors with sustainability,” said Dr. Jonathan Day, who works with Travel Care Code and is an associate professor in Purdue’s School of Hospitality and Tourism and Management. In fact, “we’ve identified 10 easy steps that can help them get started” on the path toward sustainability. For example, he said “one of the steps is to support the locals. It means encouraging people to eat at local restaurants, visit farmers markets, experience local establishments…the economy is boosted this way.”
The information from Travel Care Code will be provided to Ensemble members via different avenues so that it can be front and center at all times. “Ensemble will be providing consumer toolkits to travel advisors, via social media, print and digital. They will have information they can post on their own website,” said Carl Scmitt, v.p., CMO at Ensemble Travel Group. “Every day when a travel agent signs on to the dashboards it will be available to them.”