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Since 1964, The Travel Institute (TTI) has serviced both new-to-industry travel advisors and seasoned veterans with a wide array of travel-specific training and certifications.We chatted with Diane Petras, president of the company, about TTI’s top priorities and endeavors in 2019.
What is TTI’s current industry outlook?The industry continues to attract new students every year in record numbers, and our promotions highlight our value while encouraging and enabling a successful career in travel. In fact, sales for our TripKit new agent curriculum — already the industry’s gold standard — were up about 80 percent in October during our “Trip of a Lifetime” campaign. This is great validation about the value travel counselors bring to the industry.
Are there any key trends you’re seeing?In terms of content, the highest-attended webinars seem to be those targeting our new-to-the-industry audience, as well as those that focus on niche markets. Luxury is currently trending as the most in-demand curriculum, followed by honeymoons and weddings (romance travel), along with family travel and river cruising.
But perhaps the most dramatic trend involves the influx of independent contractors to our industry, which has increased demand for TripKit and associated content. We also experienced a spike in demand for the Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designation, which is designed for customer-facing, frontline counselors. And after we included all our specialist course content into our premium membership tier, we saw a significant increase in participation. It all signals the ongoing value of well-trained and well-prepared agents throughout the industry.
How does TTI attract newcomers to the industry?We recognize that accessibility is key to finding those with the personalities and skill sets to be successful agents, and we know it is imperative to get our content into their hands — literally, because they are spending their time on their phones — in a mobile-friendly format with messages that resonate.
Communicating the value of education and certification while managing career expectations is important — how do you do this?There is much to learn before you can be considered a travel professional, and I am incredibly passionate about sharing this message. Loving travel is a great place to start, but our industry is complicated and constantly changing. There are many important qualifications to evaluate before determining if one is capable of being a successful travel agent.
At every opportunity, we have been integrating this message so that we can best serve individuals assessing a travel career. Our message has been well-received and is validated often by both industry insiders and the general public. They understand that a travel professional is vital to saving travelers both time and money while also providing peace of mind and security before, during and after travel. We celebrated our 25,000th certified graduate this year, and we know that they are proud to be part of a community of people who take their job seriously.
How will TTI continue to support travel advisors in 2019?We’ll launch our new Europe Specialist courses as they directly relate to high-interest, niche markets including river cruising, honeymoons and weddings and family travel. Also, our new Train the Trainer program will support in-house trainers at traditional and host agencies. We’ll also provide more tools to assist TTI-certified graduates so that they can better communicate their accomplishments and value to travelers.
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