Industry Leaders Collaborate with The Travel Institute to Deliver Best-in-Class Agent Education and Savings 


FRAMINGHAM, MA, NOVEMBER 9, 2020 – From supply chain dynamics to destination specifics,  government regulations to business requirements, and consumer preferences to new health protocols,  getting and staying current is no small feat for travel professionals. The Travel Agent Next Door, TTAND,  in Toronto, and Ohio-based KHM Travel Group are two of many travel organizations collaborating with  The Travel Institute to deliver best-in-class education for their agents. 

Just one example of how The Travel Institute collaborates with travel agencies, both KHM and TTAND  are currently facilitating in-house, private study groups to support agents determined to earn their  Certified Travel Associate, or CTA®, credentials before year’s end and ahead of the industry’s eventual  rebound. The 15-module CTA course is designed to help agents enhance value, improve efficiencies and  marketability, and grow sales delivered through a practical, real-life approach to learning. Utilizing a  “train the trainer” model, both organizations are taking advantage of The Travel Institute’s proprietary  syllabus, step-by-step lesson plans, presentation materials, class calendars, progress quizzes and more  to deliver the immersive experience in-house. 

“We certainly save time and money over trying to keep a program up-to-date on our own but  what really excites us is working with The Travel Institute—an education-based organization—to utilize a  program developed and managed by education professionals. Why would I do it any other way?” asked  Rhonda Stanley, CTC, vice president, talent, TTAND. Stanley facilitates the host agency’s CTA study group  and also uses The Travel Institute’s textbooks, an introductory program course for new agents, and  other learning modules in TTAND’s customized onboarding program. For TTAND, a host agency focused  on attracting and developing quality agents, the partnership has translated into financial success as CTAs  at TTAND are top performers recognized consistently for contributing to the 6-year-old Canadian  organization’s fast-growing bottom line. 

Marie Smith, CTA, VTA, is group department manager with KHM, which has more than 4,500  agents across the United States. Working with The Travel Institute for more than five years, KHM utilizes  various content modules from the education leader. Smith, also a member of The Travel Institute’s  Academic Council, has seen “huge interest” from KHM agents enrolling in the CTA for several years and  is now facilitating her first study group. “It’s an opportunity to further take advantage of industry leading content and customize it for our independent host model,” she said, explaining, “We take key  concepts and make them our own. Consider team building—our independent contractors may not sit  with a team each day but they still need team-building to create a support network.” 

Guida Botelho, CTIE, director of education at The Travel Institute, emphasized the education  leader works with numerous agencies and schools in a variety of ways to support their training efforts. 

“Learning is not a one-size fits all proposition; we’re flexible about how we work with individuals and  organizations and that’s a really rewarding, fun part of what we do,” she shared. 

KHM’s current CTA study group includes 69 agents while TTAND’s study group is 43 agents. For  both, agents attend an online, facilitated class each week while also studying independently in-between  group times. They can also take advantage of recordings if they want to review what they’ve learned or  missed a class. Along with the significant cost savings over maintaining such a course in-house, as well as  added flexibility and control, both facilitators value the up-to-date content delivered through an expert designed, online learning management system, the opportunity to collaborate on course improvements,  and the ability to use the group study option as a recruiting tool. 

“Many travel education programs only cover part of the education an agent needs and some  organizations use an on-the-job learning approach, which can have devastating consequences for  travelers counting on agent expertise,” explained Stanley, a 42-year industry veteran. “Getting certified  is not a walk in the park—there is a lot to learn and it can be difficult but once agents have it, they really  stand out. The capabilities and confidence they gain are well worth their time and money,” she insisted. 

Smith agreed and said while the industry does not have standard education requirements, the  CTA designation has become an industry standard in and of itself providing the practical and  professional skills every agent needs. “Certification through The Travel Institute is valuable because of  the skills and confidence it gives an agent but also because of the professional stamp of approval it earns  them with peers and with travelers who can verify agent credentials online and learn about the  difference those three letters truly make. I wish every agent was required to go through this course,”  she enthused, noting certified agents often charge differently given the superior capabilities and service  they provide. 

For those balancing career and other priorities, the private study group also creates momentum  they may not otherwise have. “It’s human nature to procrastinate when you are busy with other things  and you don’t have a hard deadline,” Stanley acknowledged, referring to agents who go it alone. “But  when you have a study group with a solid curriculum led by an instructor, it’s more engaging and it  becomes interactive. It’s clear that is what we have at TTAND and it helps our agents stay on course.” 

While agents with access to private study groups like TTAND and KHM value the peer support,  accessibility, accountability and real-time relevance the study groups provide, agents who do not have  an in-house program can enroll in the course and join The Travel Institute’s public, recurring study  groups or study independently. “Our only goal is agent and industry success,” according to Botelho.  “Whether it’s off-the-shelf plug and play, a white-labeled product, a customized version of our content  or another creative solution, we want to share our ‘tried and true’ content, education expertise and  know-how.” 

For both TTAND and KHM’s current study groups, their efforts will culminate this winter in  sitting for the proctored CTA test. Stanley and Smith will be cheering agents on, hoping for passing  scores while cognizant that for travel’s best and brightest, learning never stops. “Some of our industry  designations require memberships or sales quotas but certification through The Travel Institute requires  only a commitment to keep learning,” Stanley noted. “Let’s face it, that should be happening for agents  required or not. Our industry is constantly changing and the day you stop learning you might as well  wave the white flag.”

Training is vital in attracting new talent, improving productivity, increasing revenue, and building strong  teams. An expert training partner saves agencies time and money while ensuring quality results. Contact  The Travel Institute to learn more. 

About The Travel Institute 

A collaborative industry effort created in 1964, The Travel Institute has continuously evolved to maintain its role as the global  leader in industry education and certification while staying true to its mission: dedicated solely to advancing the professionalism  of both agents and industry leaders in support of individual and industry success. A non-profit, independent organization, The  Travel Institute also works with leaders throughout the industry to create and deliver relevant, meaningful and rigorous  coursework. Using exclusive proctored, closed-book testing to ensure its graduates earn credentials that demonstrate the  highest standards of expertise and service, The Travel Institute has certified more than 26,000 Certified Travel Associate (CTA®),  Certified Travel Counselor (CTC®), and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE®) graduates and also administers the Travel  Agent Proficiency, or TAPSM, exam to confirm students new to the industry demonstrate a mastery of travel industry basics. A  trusted partner to industry suppliers and educational institutions, The Travel Institute has trained hundreds of thousands more  through additional courses, webinars, and in its online Premium Access program. Throughout North America, many successful agents and high-profile leaders credit their success to coursework from The Travel Institute. Learn more at The Travel Institute. # # #