Travel insights from Rick Zimmerman, President & CEO, KHM Travel Group

Travel Advisors and the Community of Learning

At Apple Leisure Group's Ascend Conference earlier this fall, I spoke with a representative from VAX VacationAccess about the educational opportunities provided within the travel community. It's something we both expressed passion about because it is so central to the health of the industry.

We are fortunate to be a part of a community of learning; a collective of professionals that are as willing to share their knowledge as they are to learn themselves. Knowledge is power, and to share knowledge is to empower.

If you are partnered with a host travel agency, hopefully they provide opportunities for continued professional development. To help you expand your horizons for 2020, I want to highlight other options for taking advantage of this community of learning.

American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA)

In addition to news and advocacy for travel agents, ASTA provides at least a half dozen different ways to become a more educated travel professional. You can subscribe to the email newsletter, ASTA Travel Advisor Daily, which features the most recent headlines and valuable insights that impact you. ASTA's complimentary webinars cover a range of topics, from policy initiatives to more product-focused sessions.

For immersive education, ASTA puts on Educational Journeys, which allow advisors to experience destinations or ships. On their website you'll also find the Verified Travel Advisor Certification Program, which demonstrates your commitment and your professionalism.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

There's no faster-growing segment of travel than the cruise industry and CLIA has made it a priority to empower cruise specialists with as much knowledge as possible. On, you'll find CLIA's Travel Agent Center which includes information about their well-respected certification programs, online courses, and virtual ship inspections.

CLIA even invites travel advisors to schedule a career counseling session with the Professional Development and Training Team. That kind of commitment is certain to raise the bar across the board for cruising-focused travel advisors.

The Travel Institute

For over 50 years, The Travel Institute has been the leading name in the industry for providing training and certification. They offer a variety of educational and professional development opportunities including the Certified Travel Associate (CTA), Certified Travel Counselor (CTC), and Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) programs.

Compliance, customer service, time management, and Emotional Intelligence are just a few of the topics covered in The Travel Institute's courses. Not only will this certification build your knowledge, it will also serve as an instant way to publicly showcase your credibility as a travel professional.

Even if you aren't searching for a host agency, the team at Host Agency Reviews goes out of their way to bring well-researched and well-written resources to their audience. For those that are brand new, their 7-Day Setup Challenge answers that big question, "Where do I start?"

Founder Stephanie Lee and her team not only survey hosted agents on a regular basis, they also package up the results to share on the site. Their reports on travel agent income and demographics are insightful, thorough, and often very entertaining!

Now is the time of year when we start to think about the communities we are tied to and the opportunities they've brought us. You may even start to wonder how you can give back to this community of learning. It could be as simple as sharing business tips with other travel professionals on social media or coaching a new advisor through a booking over the phone. In doing so, you'll be a part of fostering our strong community of learning and developing future generations of successful travel advisors.

About the Author

Rick Zimmerman is the President of KHM Travel Group, one of the country’s leading host travel agencies. Rick joined the travel industry fresh out of college where he worked as a travel agent for a small agency in Cleveland, Ohio. After a 25-year career in the construction industry, Rick returned to his travel roots and helped found KHM Travel Group in 2005. Rick is an active advocate of the travel agent community and serves on multiple travel-related Advisory Boards.

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