Earlier this year, Skift reported that a striking 45% of millennials polled said they’re likely to recommend a travel consultant to a friend or family member. Overall, about two-thirds of those polled across all demographics said using a consultant makes their trip better.
As this market continues to grow, it’s important for travel consultants to have access to responsive, human-supported, online and mobile-optimized travel consultant training. These educational programs are critical for adapting to the ever-changing travel industry.
Signature Travel Network has developed numerous strategies to leverage these trends. Signature is a cooperative of retail travel consultants that was founded in 1956 — today, the group provides travel consultant members with a robust portfolio of travel products, marketing materials, proprietary technology tools, and extensive educational resources.
As Signature celebrates its 60th anniversary, the organization has seen many changes over the last six decades. It is proud to have held firm to its “members-first” policy through all of them, becoming a market leader as a result.
Signature focuses its efforts exclusively on the growth, profitability, and education of members. By extension, this includes recruiting and training new talent in recognition of the rapidly shifting customer and employee/contractor demographics.
This shift was substantiated in a 2016 survey of Signature agencies showing that 43% of recent new hires were new to the industry. Additionally, 19% of those were under the age of 40, with 9% under 30.
True to form, it has created a broad collection of proactive and comprehensive solutions for the younger, less-experienced workforce at hand. At the same time, it continues to serve its more seasoned members. It’s a combination that proves its effectiveness through consistent member growth and supplier performance.
All of Signature’s training programs are governed by four principles: accessibility, relevance, applicability, and quality.
Accessibility: With the shift toward younger employees and contractors, courses primarily rely on video, most divided into short 10-15 minute segments, optimized for mobile technology yet desktop-friendly. Detailed “handout material” and topic reinforcement at subsequent live meetings and events is also provided.
Relevance: All courses are developed or selected with consideration to member agencies’ needs and objectives.
Applicability: Supplier product knowledge is extremely important; however, it is equally important to make it applicable through ongoing skill-development.
Quality: The priority is to select or develop high quality material over simply creating a large catalogue of courses.
All Signature members have access to online and offline training resources. Most are accessed or organized through its private SigNet Intranet. In additional to training, SigNet houses a vast collection of technology tools, materials and programs.
Signature’s training resources include online proprietary courses, access to partner provided workshops, training at events, live and on-demand webinars, how-to guides, reference guides white papers and more.
The network’s premier training platform is Signature University. It is a custom developed learning management system offering members 24/7 access to training. Most courses are video-based, on-demand, and users can set their own pace. All courses are complimentary.
The Human Element
Even with one of the most advanced training systems in the business, Signature understands the significance of person-to-person and experiential learning. Rather than simply provide access to industry-standard “FAM Trips,” the group has designed two well-orchestrated product and destination programs that enhance learning outcomes.
Signature Educational Journeys
These exclusive preferred supplier educational trips provide travel consultants with unique, hand-selected opportunities to experience products and destinations first-hand. With a sharp focus on education, they also motivate, and train consultants, with the objective of increasing the sales of featured products and destinations.
Signature Learning Immersion Journeys
As the name implies, these are deep-learning experiences with special departures geared toward consultants that are newer to the industry (less than 5 years’ experience). The trips include expanded training time with strategic peer-to-peer mentoring and best practices for marketing and sales.
Signature Travel Network has not just endured the last sixty years, it has thrived in them. The organization credits its growth and success largely to its ability to research, understand, and proactively plan for change. That ability includes purposeful attention to such crucial matters as education and the ability to adapt program offerings to accommodate a shift in demographics.