Not All Training is Created Equal
By: Sandy Saburn, CTIE

Recently, many travel agents have spent a lot of time on training. I would imagine the past six months have seen the greatest consumption of travel industry training in the history of the industry!  A lot of travel agents have had a lot of time on their hands and they want to put it to good use.

As someone who has been delivering training for nearly 30 years, I am thrilled that the travel industry is embracing education. There’s just one issue.

It’s not all worth your time.

Quite honestly, some of it is a waste of your time. Not that the training isn’t well done and beneficial for someone, but it isn’t right for you.

All training you consume needs to have a specific end goal in mind. If you are a river cruise specialist, you don’t need to take every training course offered by all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. Sure, you might book one or two here or there, but it’s not an effective use of your time to train for outliers.

 

Here’s the kind of training most travel agents really need:

  • Client attraction and list building
  • Facebook ad strategy
  • Writing great content
  • Creating quotes that book
  • Organization and workflow management
  • Hosting virtual client events
  • Group sales strategies

 

These topics focus on the business side of your travel agency – not the product side. If you want to work smarter, make more money, and actually enjoy your business, these are the kinds of tools you need. It’s not enough to know products and destinations.

If you are an IC, you are an independent business owner. You have to make all the decisions with that business. It’s rewarding to build something from scratch and see it bloom. To do that you need the right tools to help you grow. You need to be proactive in building your business rather than just taking what comes along.

(I recognize that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. If that’s you and you are looking for an amazing travel advisor to affiliate with, reach out to us and we can connect you.)

The challenge in the travel industry is finding this kind of training. For a long time, the industry was populated by employees working in brick and mortar agencies who didn’t need entrepreneurial education, so there was very little of it and most of it applied to brick and mortar business owners, not ICs. This was one of the reasons Meredith Hill founded our sister company, Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs (GIFTE).

And it is at the core of what we do at Gifted Travel Network: Support travel entrepreneurs. As a matter of fact, the list of training above is all sessions from our upcoming conference (there are more than 40 sessions, so this is just a sample).

So where can you find some of this training? I hope you are affiliated with a host agency that provides it for you. If not, perhaps from a consortia. The challenge for many entrepreneurs is that you have to piece this together from different sources. Which is one of the reasons I think Gifted Travel Network is so amazing.  You get all this in one place (and for our conference, you get it all at no charge).

Another way to find this information is to look outside the travel industry. There are lots of speakers, membership programs, and training focused on business topics that can be put to work in the travel industry. You might have to tweak the information a little to make it work for travel.

 

The point is this: You need to focus a significant portion of your training time on non-product training. I’ve said this more times than I can count: “Having a stack of certificates from vendor training programs won’t get you one ideal client.” And for most travel agents that’s the biggest pain point: not enough of the right kind of clients. Some have too few clients. Some have lots of clients, but they aren’t their ideal clients. You have to market to get what you want and if you aren’t clear about what kind of clients you want or how to attract them, you’ll end up with less-than-ideal clients – or no clients at all.

January 1st – and the start of wave season – is just 85 days away. You have 85 days to get systems and marketing in place to be ready for what we hope is going to be a historic wave season. Don’t squander that time on yet another vendor training program you don’t really need.