The Opportunities of 2020 Have Prepared Us for Better Days
A Message from Diane Petras, CTIE, President, The Travel Institute
Never has the New Year been more welcome in the travel industry—and around the world. Still, I am grateful for some critical positives for 2020:
- A bright light shined on the value of a professional advisor as so many DIY travelers were left stranded without an advocate when travel abruptly halted and never-before chaos became costly circumstances for so many.
- Our industry stepped up as agents, suppliers, and organizations went above and beyond to support each other and the traveling public, resulting in improved services, policies, and products.
- The Travel Institute was able to pivot, develop and deliver content that served the changing needs of an industry that unexpectedly found itself in a state no one could have imagined.
Our team was honored to do its share in supporting record numbers of agents in 2020. We saw thousands choose to stay productive and connected during their downtime. Some took advantage of the skill development courses we offered on a complimentary basis over the spring and summer, while others took advantage of our scholarship fund to finally become certified. Some utilized additional educational programming from within their own organizations, and still others benefited from our new courses, Premium Access subscriptions, and the peer-to-peer support from our constantly growing online community. My sincere and most simple hope is that a majority of agents took advantage of the opportunity to advance themselves and our industry during the 2020 crisis.
With the light now visible at the end of this “long tunnel” called 2020, it’s wonderful to have an uptick in bookings, encouraging TSA traffic data, and optimistic traveler surveys that collectively point to better days ahead in 2021 as the return of travel starts to feel real and inevitable. I also see new agents continuing to enter the industry as a travel career regains appeal as a lucrative, flexible and exciting first, second, or even third career. We will continue to be there for them with our flagship introductory training program, TRIPKIT℠, to ensure the success of these future travel professionals. For new and seasoned agents, their ability to support and advise travelers will be as critical as ever as they navigate new rules, risks and protocols. Having both knowledge and know-how is key. Agents should strive to be industry experts who are curators of insider information, data translators deciphering meaning and value, problem solvers and more. Agents will also need to be risk navigators, relationship builders, excellent communicators, and self-marketers. Above all, agents will need to stay up-to-date and to expect the unexpected: ready, willing and able to adapt as the industry and travelers require.
At The Travel Institute, we’ll share in that agile mindset while collaborating with and on behalf of our partners and students, to ensure our content is nuanced and continues to align with evolving industry, agent and traveler needs. Starting off 2021, Exploring the World, the single, most important destination resource that new and experienced agents can have at their fingertips, is now available online in addition to print. Our new peer-to-peer sharing webinar series, “On The Road Again,” launched in December and will continue to bring timely destination updates. Shortly, we’ll announce a very special wellness travel initiative, and, very importantly, we also plan continued momentum for agents’ Digital Credentials, which provide both a consumer-facing agent directory and a marketing tool that ensures traveling consumers can most easily find and work with certified graduates of The Travel Institute.
While our curriculum constantly evolves, our mission does not. As the non-profit and global leader in travel industry education for more than 55 years, we remain singularly focused on providing affordable education that advances travel professionals in order to advance our industry. From year to year, it remains that simple, and, for this new year in particular, I for one couldn’t be more thankful!
Cheers to the Promise of a Long-Awaited 2021 and to Successful Travels for You and Yours!
Diane Petras, CTIE, President, The Travel Institute Team