There are no shortcuts in travel; therefore, you should not shortcut your education. As the saying goes: “You don’t know what you don’t know!” To start the base of your knowledge, you need to understand the players, their roles, and the partnership you have with them to serve your customers.
To enhance your knowledge this week, be sure to register for these two exceptional webinars:
- Insider Insight: The Travel Industry Key Partners—Putting the Pieces Together presented by Kim Specht, CTIE, Travel Industry Educator, TOMORROW, January 11 at 2:00 pm (EST).
- How Do You Qualify Your Luxury Traveler? presented by Angela Hughes, CTC, Trips & Ships Luxury Travel, on January 16 at 1:00 pm (EST).
Fully understanding the many players in the vast travel industry and how they can help you reach success can be overwhelming but very important. The TRIPKIT program, the travel industry’s leading entry-level training, arranges all the segments and divides it into four major categories: suppliers, distributors, supporting businesses, and supporting organizations:
Suppliers Suppliers own the goods and services travelers use, including transportation, food, accommodations, entertainment, and attractions. Airline and railroad companies, car rental companies, hotels, and cruise lines—all are major suppliers. Restaurants, nightclubs, museums, theaters, and others also may be considered suppliers, though on a smaller scale.
Your job as a travel counselor is to help your clients choose the service or supplier best suited for their needs. Because there are thousands of suppliers, it’s important that you develop preferred relationships or take advantage of existing preferred partnerships through your agency or consortium. These relationships will benefit your client, the suppliers, and you by creating an alliance of trust, quality, and reliability.
Distributors Distributors act as intermediaries between suppliers and travelers, helping travelers obtain the goods and services owned by suppliers and helping suppliers promote their products in the marketplace where travelers can find them.
A travel agency is a distributor because it acts as the intermediary between the client and the supplier. Your role as a travel professional is to understand the client needs and match it to the best supplier of services. A travel agency also acts as the marketer or seller of supplier products to the client. Other distributors include tour operators/packagers, consolidators, and destination management companies.
Supporting Businesses There are many businesses in the travel industry dedicated to providing services that help travel professionals be efficient in their roles. These include global distribution systems (GDSs), travel insurance companies, customer relationship management tools (CRMs), and, of course, host agencies. Host agencies are travel businesses accredited by ARC, IATA, and CLIA, and they affiliate with independent travel agents in an independent contractor agreement. These businesses provide the travel counselors with the tools and services they need to support distribution to the client. All independent agents are 100% the owners and operators of their businesses, and they are not employees of their host agencies.
Supporting Organizations Supporting organizations aid, educate, or regulate the travel industry. For example, the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) is a trade association that lobbies governments and speaks to the public on behalf of its members. National tourist offices (NTOs) are government agencies that promote travel to their countries; for example, the German National Tourist Board with offices in New York and Los Angeles promotes travel to Germany from the United States.
The Travel Institute—a non-profit, independent organization that is the global leader in industry education and certification—has trained hundreds of thousands of travel professionals through its courses, webinars, and in its online Premium Access Library. And insurance providers offer clients insurance against many of the risks associated with traveling.
We hope you enjoyed this fabulous excerpt from the TRIPKIT program.
Remember that an educated travel professional saves travelers time and money and provides peace of mind for agents and clients alike. To start building a solid foundation on the critical areas all travel professionals need to be successful, check out the TRIPKIT today.