Travel Leaders Group has unveiled plans to develop new travel agent talent through its “Travel Leaders of Tomorrow” initiative. Travel Leaders of Tomorrow will seek to attract and train new travel agents and place them into existing wholly-owned, franchised or member agencies.
The new program is being spearheaded by Nexion President Jackie Friedman and travel industry training veteran Heather Kindred, who has been tapped to serve as its Program Director, the group reports.
“It’s no secret that our industry is significantly challenged by an increasingly aging travel agent population with too little new, young blood coming into our ranks. For too long, the public’s notion that the travel agency industry was going away went unchecked, when in fact, it’s never been a more viable career choice in which exceptional agents can make exceptional money,” explained Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group.
“If Travel Leaders Group is ‘to remain the undisputed leader in travel,’ then it is absolutely critical and incumbent upon us to actively recruit and train new agents to place in our wholly-owned, franchised and membership-based businesses. Our new Travel Leaders of Tomorrow initiative forms a working partnership that includes Travel Leaders Group, our agencies and a carefully cultivated number of preferred suppliers, as well as the invaluable support from The Travel Institute. Together, we’re working in concert in developing a comprehensive training program to attract fresh talent that will infuse new blood into our industry," Liben said.
According to Friedman – who is already attracting new travel agent talent through Nexion’s “Nexion Generation” initiative – Travel Leaders of Tomorrow will offer training through a variety of channels that will culminate in providing hands-on practice through agency internships and careers as travel agents.
In addition to partnering with The Travel Institute on part of the core curriculum and technology platform, program components are being sponsored by a variety of leading travel suppliers, including Celebrity Cruises, Delta Air Lines, Funjet Vacations, Globus Family of Brands, Hertz, MLT Vacations, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Sabre Travel Network, Travel Guard and Travel Insured International.
“Travel Leaders of Tomorrow could never have hit the ground running had it not been for the early support and collaboration that these supplier partners bring to this initiative,” Friedman explained. “Like us, they understand that if the industry does not work to build our bench strength now, they will be left without the necessary sales force to sell their products and services. They are visionary enough to see that it’s much more cost-effective to proactively join with us in this initiative than to be saddled with the huge expense of building their own sales teams.”
Kindred joins Travel Leaders Group from her role as a continuing education training specialist for the University of Washington Medicine (Seattle). She has been in various education and training roles with Holland America Line, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and AAA (Washington State) dating back to 1996.
Friedman detailed key program goals, including: “First, we must improve the prevailing perception about the long-term viability of building a career as a travel agent. Second, we must develop a comprehensive curriculum that encompasses where our industry is and will be in a very forward-looking fashion. Third, our participating students must graduate with the necessary knowledge for us to successfully place them into open roles within our existing agencies. If Travel Leaders of Tomorrow can accomplish all three, we believe we’ll have infused the entire industry with the new blood it needs to sustain itself for decades to come.”
Travel Leaders of Tomorrow plans to offer its first class in early 2013.