2020 already! Where did 2019 go? This past year was incredibly exciting at The Travel Institute! We worked tirelessly on the launch of Digital Credentials, a marketplace differentiator that helps CTAs, CTCs and CTIEs showcase their expertise digitally to both colleagues and consumers. We also launched a new interactive learning platform to help our students learn and retain more, we developed and delivered several new and updated courses, and we turned in another record-breaking year for newly certified graduates and for the number of new agents interested in ensuring they have the knowledge they need for success. I am incredibly proud of our team for these accomplishments and many more. But what does it all mean now as we look to 2020?
“No experience necessary; no training mandatory.” This statement attracted new agents with great, raw talent to the industry in record-breaking numbers over the past several years. Yet, many suppliers and agencies are realizing the real costs of supporting novice agents as more time was spent educating vs. transacting and critical mistakes led to increased liability. This also produced unquantified costs in terms of eroding consumer trust.
The good news is that these unintended costs have led to a renewed appreciation for the value of agent education. We saw this reflected in our 2018 survey, indicating certified travel professionals earn more and with our own CTA, CTC, and CTIE graduates topping the income charts. I see this resurgence also reflected ongoing in leadership dialogue throughout the industry, in growing trade and mainstream media coverage about the necessity of agent education and certification, in the record number of students working with The Travel Institute, and in growing use of our new digital credentials tool as certified graduate adoption climbs and they market their expertise more than ever.
Recognition that an educated travel professional saves travelers time and money while providing peace of mind is both a challenge and an opportunity our industry is seizing. From hearing student feedback about their increased self-confidence and added value, to developing a growing number of partnerships with industry organizations and educational institutions, through speaking and networking at industry conferences, and in working with our passionate team to support travel and education organizations, I am privileged to have a “bird’s eye view” as the industry focuses on enhanced travel professional value for many years to come!
Looking to 2020, I see only continued momentum. A recently released survey from The United States Tour Operators Association, USTOA, found 84 percent of operators use travel advisors to sell their products and nearly all anticipate agent bookings will continue or grow in 2020. The Travel Institute is ready, supporting travel professionals with ongoing content updates for our CTA, CTC and CTIE programs, new destination and niche specialist courses, enhanced TRIPKIT curriculum for those who are new to the industry, and new content for our Premium Access members who access hundreds of “master class” lectures every day. Perhaps most exciting of all, we have plans to help traveling consumers more easily access our certified graduates through their digital credentials.
It was truly a fantastic year for YOUR Travel Institute. On behalf of my team, thanks to each and every one of you who has supported our ongoing success. We celebrate every student, every colleague, and every organization because when each of you succeed, we succeed—and our entire industry benefits!
Cheers to safe and successful travels in 2020 and beyond!
Diane Petras, CTIE, President, The Travel Institute