Navigatr, a privately-owned travel holdings company, is in talks to acquire Ensemble, the U.S. and Canadian member-owned travel consortium that includes more than 600 independently-owned agencies in North America.
According to a letter sent to Ensemble members and seen by TMR, the group’s Board of Directors voted in favor of moving forward with the proposal from Navigatr. Shareholders are scheduled to hold a special meeting next Thursday, April 14 to discuss the move, which then needs to be approved by shareholders.
The deal would see Ensemble fall under the Navigatr umbrella, which currently includes Kensington Tours, TripArc, Travel Edge, and the Travel Edge Network. Travel Edge, one of the best-selling host agencies in North America, previously parted ways with Virtuoso before joining TripArc last year.
A travel holding company based in Toronto, Navigatr was founded by Travel Edge CEO and Founder Jeff Willner in 2018. Its president is John Hiscock, former general counsel to Kensington Tours, Travel Edge, and TripArc. According to its website, it reports more than $1.1 billion in annual sales, 1.2 million total annual transactions, and close to 250,000 clients to date.
Ensemble, according to the letter, would remain a “standalone” company, with Harris assuming the role of Chairman. Michael Johnson, who was named president of Travel Edge in January 2021, would assume the role of president.
According to Johnson, Navigatr had been in the process of trying to launch its own consortium when the idea of purchasing Ensemble was raised. Johnson said the deal is “a prime example of where the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts providing significant benefits to members and suppliers alike.”
In its letter to members, Ensemble said that the deal would offer an enhanced profit-sharing model for 2022 and beyond, “payments that recognized 2019 bookings under Ensemble’s consortia contracts,” along with access to Navigatr’s technology.
In a statement, Ensemble CEO David Harris said that the deal is an “exciting opportunity” for the company.
“While the pandemic has certainly brought many challenges to our industry, it has also given us the opportunity to explore new ideas and relationships,” he said.
“While it is up to the shareholders to decide on the future of Ensemble, this is an exciting opportunity that would couple Ensemble’s areas of expertise and robust agency network with Navigatr’s great depth of resources that we know will create a compelling value proposition within the consortia space.”
Teams at both Ensemble and Navigatr have been working on a transition plan "to ensure consistency of experience for members, suppliers, and the Ensemble team," ahead of next week's vote, Ensemble said.