Ensemble member questions Hickory's integrity after claim of acquisition bid suppression: Travel Weekly

An Ensemble Travel Group member is questioning the timing of Hickory Global Partners’ announcement that it made a bid for the member-owned cooperative, posting that it did so to upset a looming vote among members for Ensemble to being acquired by private investment company Navigatr Group.

In a release on Wednesday, Hickory claimed Ensemble never disclosed its competing bid for the cooperative to its members.

“Why now? Why didn’t they make this claim when the whole thing became public?” said Eric Goldring, owner of Goldring Travel in Truckee, Calif., an Ensemble agency.

Ensemble first publicly disclosed the potential acquisition by Navigatr in early April.

Goldring said he believes Hickory has come forward about Ensemble now to upset the vote currently going on with regard to the proposed Navigatr transaction.

“I have serious concerns about their integrity,” he said of Hickory. “They don’t seem honest to me.”

Chris Dane, Hickory’s president, said his company commented after it received information about details of the potential sale of Ensemble.

“If the members are happy, then they will vote accordingly,” Dane said. “And if they are not, then they will vote accordingly.”

Voting results expected on Tuesday

Goldring said he believes the Navigatr deal will be approved by members; his understanding is the voting will be finalized at a shareholder meeting next Tuesday.

“I have a very good sense it’s going to go through,” he said. “I have not heard grumblings from, really, anybody specifically that it’s a deal that is not going to happen.”

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Goldring said he is in favor of the Navigatr acquisition, citing Navigatr’s “excellent” air and hotel technology.

“They’ve got a product, and they want to sell it — and they want to make money using it,” he said. “Ensemble has, for over a decade, gone through different permutations of technology to provide us with that, and they’ve never done it.”

While Goldring has found some of Ensemble’s technology lacking over the years, he has stayed with the member-owned cooperative because he continues to generate income from his investment in the group. Weighing that with the cost of joining another consortium, Ensemble has remained his choice affiliation.

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