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Travel Institute Unveils CommuniversityJune 27, 2011 By: George Dooley Travel Agent
The Travel Institute is revamping its website, introducing the Communiversity, a new education platform, and changing its pricing model from an annual fee of $95 to a monthly fee of $19.99. Current members will stay on the annual fee basis until the end of their current membership and then will transition to the monthly model which requires a one-year commitment. The Travel Institute says that similar professional education content typically costs about $35 per month.
That fee includes the Communiversity and its content of about 600 college-level business education courses that are available on demand, 24/7. Courses are organized into a variety of tracks, based on an agent’s career path and goals, running the gamut from new to the industry to industry veteran. The tracks include technology, marketing, finance, social media, management and more.
Managers can take classes about creating teams that work, and motivation methods and strategy. There are courses in time management fundamentals and time management for maximum productivity. The technology track includes social media and the “Geek School,” created by Chelle Honiker-Yarbrough, a travel industry technology guru who is now the Travel Institute’s director of marketing and technology.
The Institute reports it has invested months of work in the revamp and Communiversity. The revamp came after surveying members about what they want in education. Members said they wanted more education — and not another webinar but engaging and interactive courses that go outside the industry, the Institute said.
A lot of agents want solid business training and the Commniversity offers exactly that, the Institute says. The Communiversity content is separate from the Travel Institute’s formidable industry lineup of courses that agents can take individually and to earn their CTA (Certified Travel Associate) and CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) accreditations. That remains available to members at a discount, the Institute says.
Travel Institute members also said that they often feel overwhelmed by educational systems. That’s why the Communiversity’s many courses are organized into tracks to help agents lay out an educational strategy. Many agents also said that they felt very “alone” in their education efforts, so the Communiversity offers both community and coaching. If you’ve got question, you first search the database for answers, then look for a webinar that would educate on the topic.
The Communiversity has a forum where members can network with their peers and instructors in chat rooms and through blog posts. The Communiversity also tracks what you’re doing. If, for example, you sign up for a class about Excel but don’t immediately take it, after five days you’ll get an email gently reminding you about that class.
The Communiversity content comes from Mind Leaders and Honiker-Yarbrough’s “Geek School.” You can take an entire course or just look for the part of a course that answers a question you might have about, say, using Excel. According to Training and Development magazine, “e-learning courses progress up to 50 percent faster than traditional courses.” Users can skip material they know and focus on what they need to know.
There are transcripts for tracking your progress and completion certificates — managers can keep track of their employees training, track progress and identify areas of additional training, the Institute said.
The Travel Institute reports it is reaching out to travel agency consortia to work with them on group training, all part of an effort to make the Travel Institute, the travel industry’s “education destination,” said Carla Smith, manager of marketing communications and membership.