The Western Association of Travel Agencies (WESTA) reports a five percent increase in attendance for their 2012 Trade Show and front-line agent training series. These events, held in Northern and Southern California, Portland and Seattle are part an educational program that will ultimately encompass nearly 25 live events held throughout the year. WESTA also reports that 15 new agencies joined WESTA in 2011.
"Educating our front-line travel professionals is the singularly biggest factor contributing to the success of our preferred partnerships. That is why we take our educational program on the road. We feel that it is important to offer our educational programs in a format that allows every agent from every member agency the opportunity to participate." states Mike Estill, chief operating officer of WESTA.
"There are some great educational programs offered throughout the year, but not every agency is in a position to fly their staff to out-of-town training programs. Our goals are to get every agent trained, so we take our training directly to them," Estill said.
These training sessions included agents from most of the 15 new agencies who joined WESTA in 2011. WESTA training has also gained support from WESTA members.
"It was invaluable and definitely a day very well spent!" said Marti Anderson of Anderson Travel. "As a newer member of WESTA, we appreciated the introduction to those suppliers new to us and updates on the products we are more familiar with. The event gave us an opportunity to meet one on one with all these suppliers in a personalized setting."
For the first time, this year's programs included presentations by WESTA's new preferred hotel partners. "The opportunity to participate in our marketing and educational programs was enthusiastically received by the select group of hoteliers included in the initial program roll-out in 2011. It is our expectation that we will see a similar trend as we open up the program to a wider group of hotels in 2012," said President Ross Beatty of The Beatty Group.
"My agents support this new program and I am confidant it will be a great benefit for our member agencies and their clients. In addition, the inclusion of the hotel component to our educational program really rounded out the excellent training provided by our preferred wholesalers," Beatty said.
WESTA is a member owned and directed cooperative headquartered in Portland, Oregon and is focused on West Coast agencies. The agency group has an estimated membership of 150 members.