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Reflecting on the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis across the travel industry, it’s been clear for The Travel Institute that many travel professionals are using this time to assess how to best move forward. Each day, as our team plans and develops content for agent education, we are mindful and grateful that we are continuing to fill an industry need to develop travel experts and savvy businesspeople.
I recently shared some of the sales and webinar attendance numbers that demonstrate what is happening now, and they show that there is an unprecedented demand for learning. I think it’s also interesting to know why it’s happening. Why are agents in all stages of their careers and organizations — some we partner with, and some who we are just getting to know — turning to The Travel Institute during this crisis?
Following are a few reasons I’d like to highlight.
Time Is a LuxuryI’ve often said that time is our biggest competitor at The Travel Institute. I’ve never known a travel professional who couldn’t benefit from additional learning in our dynamic and ever-evolving industry, yet I’ve known many who say time is a luxury they simply don’t have.
The COVID-19 crisis is different from most, and it has left many advisors with spare time for an extended period. As we all identify our own personal silver linings from the last couple of months, the unanticipated gift of time is one such silver lining for our industry that collectively affords travel advisors everywhere a window of opportunity to strengthen their professional and practical capabilities and advance their career.
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I’m excited for the elevated level of capability and service these agents will undoubtedly provide post-crisis. Advancing themselves will benefit them, their travelers, their organizations and our industry for years to come.
Continued Education Is EssentialI’m always amazed by messages claiming that no experience or education is necessary for industry newcomers to start serving travelers. I also understand that it can be difficult to prioritize continued education when you have base knowledge and busy days.
Regardless, the ability to respond in crises often reveals gaps — in training, capabilities and systems. That is what’s happening now, as agents and organizations reflect on both what they have been able to manage well, and what they could have managed better.
Regardless, the ability to respond in crises often reveals gaps — in training, capabilities and systems. That is what’s happening now as agents and organizations reflect on both what they have been able to manage well and what they could have managed better.
Many agents have truly been heroes to their travelers, serving as our industry’s “emergency responders” and navigating fast-moving, complex circumstances. But those who have found themselves less-equipped have missed an opportunity to demonstrate value for themselves and for agents everywhere as consumers — now with a heightened awareness of the pitfalls of online travel agencies — take note.
The good news? These same agents are seeking education now to fill the gaps and ready themselves to better represent their profession when travel resumes.
Advancing Travel Professionals Is Our Steadfast MissionAs a non-profit, independent organization created through a collaborative effort in 1964 to set the industry standard through college-level education, certification and testing, The Travel Institute has always been dedicated solely to advancing travel professionals and the travel industry.
Never has our singular focus been more evident as when we quickly pivoted programming to deliver on-demand training on timely topics such as virtual selling, while also featuring foundational courses such as business planning and business writing.
Author Napoleon Hill said it well: ‘Successful people, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.’
Our 2018 study proved what I have always passionately believed: Having the personal skills, professional knowledge and business aptitude to navigate the travel industry is often the difference between success and failure.
“My Certified Travel Associate (CTA) certification has helped me think outside the box,” shared Tiffany Uitenbroek, a CTA with AAA.
Uitenbroek further explained that certification has given her the skills and tools needed during the pandemic to creatively work through solutions with suppliers, ensure traveler satisfaction and strengthen her reputation.
It’s a theme we’re hearing consistently from our students and graduates who count on us, and it’s their stories that inspire our team to continue our meaningful work in advancing travel professionals through education.
Author Napoleon Hill said it well: “Successful people, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business, or profession.” Admittedly, I’ve been a true believer in both new-to-the-industry and continued education for travel agents for a very long time.
In fact, my 30+-year travel career includes serving as a volunteer advisory board member many years ago with the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, the original name for The Travel Institute. We’ve been creating better agents and better travel businesspeople for more than 50 years, and it’s clear today more than ever. Our students and partner organizations know exactly that as they embrace the opportunity to emerge more capable and confident than ever — making a lasting difference for both individual and industry success long after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
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