Higher Learning

Ken Shapiro Readers who only know Dr. Marc Mancini as the guru of the Geo Quiz, a fixture on the back page of this magazine, are probably unaware of what a truly multi-talented person he is. Among other things, he’s an author, public speaker, consultant and an educator. In fact, Dr. Mancini is the Chair

By: Ken Shapiro

Readers who only know Dr. Marc Mancini as the guru of the Geo Quiz, a fixture on the back page of this magazine, are probably unaware of what a truly multi-talented person he is. Among other things, he’s an author, public speaker, consultant and an educator. In fact, Dr. Mancini is the Chair of the Travel Department at West Los Angeles College (WLAC), in Culver City, one of California’s top programs for future agents and hospitality industry professionals. According to Mancini, many of you are probably already familiar with the school.

“It used to be when I was speaking at an industry event in Southern California, I would ask the crowd to raise their hands if they ever took classes at West L.A.,” he told me. “Inevitably all these hands would pop up. We’re a big part of the community here.”

I recently spent a morning with him at WLAC, sitting in on an advisory board meeting for the department. It was an honor to be included among such a notable crowd, which included WLAC’s dedicated travel faculty, some of the area’s top travel agents and local industry reps. One of the board members, Bharat Bhakta, was especially inspiring to the group. Bhakta, a native of India, is the chairman of Globimax Samson Tours & Travel. He’s an agent, a tour operator, the owner of several hotels and, most important to WLAC, a graduate of the travel program. Bhakta is a real-life success story he began as a mushroom farmer, and armed with his WLAC training, has become a travel-industry tycoon.

In Southern California, WLAC works to place students as interns at local agencies and suppliers, and according to several agents, WLAC interns can prove to be more valuable than some full-time employees. If you’re interested in participating in the internship program or learning more about continuing education opportunities visit the WLAC travel department Web site at www.travelclasses.com. Or if you have a question for Dr. Mancini, e-mail him at the magazine, and we’ll make sure he gets it (letters@travelagewest.com).

I encourage all agents and suppliers to develop a relationship with the travel programs in their local community. Not only can these programs be a great business resource, but they also allow us to pass along what we’ve learned and give back to the industry that supports us all. And that can be its own reward. K.S.

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