Industry outsiders using downtime to ramp up.
FRAMINGHAM, MA – The Travel Institute reports continued high interest in new agent training as the pandemic and economic issues prompt career changes in and outside the industry and as early signs of an industry rebound continue.
“While travel has been on hold for many, interest in a travel career is most definitely not,” shared Patty Noonan, CTC, director of sales for The Travel Institute. “I am getting inquiries from all walks and stages of life – yoga instructors, teachers, chefs, real estate agents, retired couples and more – all asking about pursuing a flexible business model and career in travel,” explained Noonan, who regularly advises potential new agents. In some cases, Noonan said, individuals are looking to complement their current, primary business. “Some see travel as a way to not only open up new opportunities and new revenue streams, but also as a way to solidify client relationships and build additional loyalty more broadly.”
Diane Petras, CTIE, president, The Travel Institute, believes those seeking a travel career are using unanticipated downtime during the pandemic to learn the industry, gain necessary skills, and launch their new career ahead of an eventual travel rebound. Several key indicators, including the Transportation Security Administration’s recently reported passenger traffic high1 since the pandemic began, suggest travel activity is already on the rise.
Petras also pointed to the resurgence of travel agents in recent years as more and more travelers again rely on agents to advise, manage trip details, and assist in mitigating unforeseen travel disruptions or risk. A recent Travelport study2 suggests this trend will continue post-pandemic. “Industry insiders have always known the value of agents related to saving travelers time and money and related to the peace of mind a traveler simply cannot get booking without them. The COVID crisis illuminates that value even more,” Petras remarked, noting continued high demand year-to-date across the non-profit travel education leader’s training programs.
The Travel Institute’s annual TRIP of a Lifetime promotion, currently underway, assists individuals looking to become travel professionals and features substantial tuition assistance savings of nearly 40 percent on its 3TRIPKITSM introductory training course bundle. Catherine Marucci, CTA, used TRIPKIT earlier this year to embark on a travel career. After 40+ years in banking and investments, Marucci is teaming with her husband, Dan, a 40+-year salesman, to launch their home-based, independent travel agency, Marucci Travel, an affiliate of Largay Travel/Tzell in Nutley, New Jersey. “At first we were unsure about a virtual course but we quickly realized TRIPKIT was a robust learning experience. It gave us the foundation to begin our new venture and the confidence to take our next steps,” recalled Marucci, who now also has advanced certification and designation as an Italy Destination Specialist. “After 24 visits to Italy and decades spent sharing our travel knowledge and experiences informally, we’re now delivering a valuable travel service while enjoying a satisfying career,” she added.
Long the industry’s gold standard for baseline, new agent training, the TRIPKIT self-guided course includes two college-level textbooks and related workbooks, plus an extensive online learning component focused on real-world travel agent experiences, industry technology, marketing, politics, economics, geography, weather, culture events, and a host of other factors that affect travel and tourism. Launching a Travel Business: The Entrepreneur’s Checklist is also included as the makeup of the travel agent community has shifted over the past 10+ years from agents working primarily as employees, 71% in 2008, to working primarily as independent contractors, 62% in 2017.4
TRIPKIT is used by individuals studying independently, agency owners and managers training new staff, and post-secondary vocational institutions teaching travel-related curricula. Students often take the Travel Agent Proficiency, or TAP®, exam after completing the course to confirm mastery of industry basics. Recent curriculum updates include easy-to-follow self-study timelines and the newly released 11th edition of the Travel Career Development textbook, along with specialization trends, social media marketing tips, travel insurance guidelines, regulatory security changes, and more.
Those exploring a career in travel are invited to join a complimentary New to the Industry webinar, which overviews new agent education and provides a roadmap for industry success. “It’s simply a matter of time before consumer travel is back,” Noonan said. “If you have a particular interest in or passion for travel, or if you have skills you want to try to apply to a new career, it’s easy and inexpensive to get started. The key is understanding industry basics and day-to-day expectations and then turning that knowledge into a part-time or full-time career.”
Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.