Feature image (above): From left to right is Lori Ferris, a graduate placed with Nexion; Dawn Coke, graduate; and Heather Kindred, program director, Travel Leaders of Tomorrow. // © 2014 Travel Leaders of Tomorrow
Travel Leaders of Tomorrow, a travel agent recruitment, training and placement initiative, is celebrating its inaugural class of nine graduates.
The online program, launched in April 2013, is a joint initiative by major travel suppliers and Travel Leaders Group. Travel Leaders has more than 6,000 company-owned, franchised and affiliated agencies operating under various brands in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Ireland and Australia.
The Travel Leaders of Tomorrow program is based on a virtual campus concept that combines independent online learning with group discussions and activities and optional field training activities.
Program graduate Dawn Myer, who was placed with Wings Travel in Blue Bell, Penn., a Vacation.com member agency, raved about the intimacy and personalization of the program’s courses. The four-module program focuses on providing students with the tools and resources they need to launch a career as a travel agent.
Participants can enter without any prior knowledge of the industry, as Dawn Coke did. Coke successfully completed the program and is confident about her prospective career as a travel consultant.
Along with inside knowledge and skills, participants are given access to mentor and job opportunities. Upon completion of the program, graduates might go on to work as an employee or independent contractor with one of Travel Leaders Group’s wholly owned or member agencies in North America.
“Of the participants who have finished the program, some are already with mentors in brick and mortar agencies,” said Heather Kindred, Travel Leaders of Tomorrow’s program director. “We introduce agencies to our participants in hopes that they are a fit or, at minimum, they have someone to answer more questions. Typically our agencies have been incredibly supportive.”
The program opens up opportunities for young agents to excel and directs agencies to fresh experts, facilitating a two-way street between young agents and established agencies.
“We ask agencies if they are in a position to mentor someone new in the industry,” said Kindred. “If they are, the best start is for agencies to contact our program and let us know what they need, what they have to offer someone new and how we can help to fill that need.”
As a supplement to training, graduates have attended events held by Vacation.com, Marriott Hotel Excellence, MLT University, CoNexion and Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld. In the coming years, Travel Leaders of Tomorrow hopes to expand its range of opportunities by including fam trips as part of the training process, as well as offering internships with select agencies based on location.