One of the great rewards of my job is the opportunity to work with truly excellent people. The relationships that have have formed over the past few years redeem many trials and tribulations. It is especially gratifying when your work associates become good friends. Those occasions are rare indeed.
Last March I had the opportunity to work with Nolan Burris, Mike Marchev, Scott Koepf and Stuart Cohen on a project. We were brought together by the recognition that there were too few pure sales and marketing training courses offered to travel professionals. While the travel industry has a great many product and destination training opportunities, training in the fundamentals of sales, marketing and customer service was much more difficult to find. I reached out to the best trainers and speakers in the travel industry to suggest we fill that gap, and to my great delight each of the four purchased airline tickets and flew to the backwaters of Northern Florida for a couple of days of video taping, impromptu chaos and fun.
We set out to create a set of training videos and workbooks for the travel industry, one that would be different from anything previously offered. Everyone came with their best game on.
We were joined by a small group of travel agents who graciously offered us their insight and feedback. Some of the travel agents came from as far away as California to sit in on what amounted to ten hours of seminars spread over two days. Their participation was absolutely vital to the project as it kept the presentations honest, authentic and altogether real.
Videotaping the seminars turned out to be the easy part. The editing, building out a web site to host the training courses, crafting the workbooks and honing various aspects of the production – that was real work.
Two outstanding travel companies joined us in the project. Celebrity Cruises and Starwood Hotels and Resorts sponsored our efforts. Both organizations are leaders in travel agent education. Celebrity Cruises’ 5 Star Academy and Starwood’s Starwoodpro program offer up best-of-class examples of supplier education in the industry. Both organizations provide travel agents with first rate training and guidance. In a time when so many travel agents lack the mentorship and peer support of the past, the programs provided by Celebrity and Starwood fill a tremendous need. It was our great good fortune that both organizations were willing to step beyond the four corners of their own worlds to further assist in the effort to train and educate the travel agent community.
It is with great pride and a very large dose of humility that we introduce to you The Travel Agent Success Series. Roughly ten hours of video training along with complete workbooks. Customer service, sales and marketing explained and then illustrated in the practical details of how to put those skills to work in social media and in the organization of your group travel business.
I truly believe that training in sales and marketing is as important for travel professionals as product knowledge. The capacity to engage clients, to form relationships, to market in the face of what at times seems to be an overwhelmingly better equipped competition is essential to success. Your passion for travel may bring you into the industry, but it is your ability to market your travel practice and to make sales that will keep you there.
What each of the trainers do is reflect back to travel agents the best practices we see day to day in each of you. There is tremendous talent and energy in the travel professional community. Few industries have endured so much change and turmoil, and yet emerged so strong. The Travel Agent Success Series is dedicated to the travel professionals who see learning as a life-long enterprise, who are looking to take their travel practice to the next level.
Many, many thanks to my four partners in the project, to Celebrity Cruises and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, to the travel agents who assisted in the production and especially to the travel agency community at large for inspiring us all.