Mentoring Programs Are Hot
by Maria Lenhart

Mentoring programs, including those designed for agency industry newcomers and seasoned agents seeking a new career focus, are one of the hottest trends in the travel agency world these days.

Just within the past year or so, several mentoring programs have been launched by agency groups, training companies and professional organizations, including include ASTA, Young Travel Professionals, Nexion, Uniglobe Travel Center and Travel Agent Success Inc.
(See Young Travel Professionals Launch Mentor Program)


Competitive edge
Why so many now? One key reason is the industry’s need to draw in and retain a new generation of agents.

Another factor is the growing competition among host agencies and, with it, increased pressure to attract and retain top talent, according to Penney Rudicil, owner of the training company Travel Agent Success, Inc., which is launching a mentorship program called Agent 2 Agent next month.  

“Agents who are new to the industry are really looking for guidance from their host agency,” said Rudicil, who plans to market her new program, which uses proprietary software to match up mentors and mentees, to host agencies as well as to individual agents.

Compelling factor
“A mentoring program definitely makes the host agency more attractive. People will change host agencies for that,” Rudicil said.

Among host agencies that are putting more resources into mentorship is Uniglobe Travel Center, which launched a six-month program called UTC Mentor U about a year ago.

“The competition between host agencies was definitely a factor in starting the program – and we feel it is in everyone’s interest to attract new blood to the industry,” said Betsy Geiser, executive vice president of Uniglobe. “We were unable to take on inexperienced agents because we didn’t have the resources for training them,” she added.

Home alone
Also driving the increase in mentorship programs is the fact that today many agents work alone at home rather than in a traditional office where colleagues often fill a mentorship role, Rudicil said.

“Agents are feeling very much on their own and want someone to connect with,” she said. “While there a lot of great social media groups out there where you can get a lot of opinions, sometimes it’s important to have deeper input from one person.”

Geiser agreed. New agents have plenty of access to books and online training, but hands-on learning is much harder to find in today’s agency environment, she said.

“We saw there was a need to provide new agents with hands-on training, the kind that agents used to get when they went to work at brick and mortar agencies,” she said. “You can read a book and pass a test, but what you really need is help with practical application.”

But guidance in the logistics of selling travel is not the overriding goal of Uniglobe’s mentoring program. Its most important function is to help participants learn to build their business, Geiser said.

“Some new agents think this will be easy and they are surprised at how hard it can be,” she said. “They think their friends and family will come to them, but these can be your most difficult clients.”

Mentoring for experienced agents
Experienced agents looking to find a new niche are also seeking out mentors, Rudicil said.

“When you decide to embark on a new specialty, it can almost be like starting over,” she said. “You may be experienced with groups, but that doesn’t mean you can do a destination wedding. It’s great if you find someone in that niche who can guide you through the process.”

The fast-changing nature of travel agency business is also making mentorships important, including for experienced agents facing reduced revenue, according to Rudicil.

“Commissions are being cut daily, so to be successful you often have to find new ways of making money, whether it’s by learning to sell new products or about new ways to operate such as charging fees,” she said. “It can be like learning a whole new trade.”

Next time: Tips for making mentoring work

Related Stories
Young Travel Professionals Launch Mentor Program

Agency’s Mentoring Program for ICs Yields Sales Stars

5 Reasons You Should Become a Mentor –– Today!

 



  0
  0
Comment:
You must be logged in to leave a comment Login | Register
Comments
Stephanie    10/10/2013 5:28:28 PM
Another mentoring program that just launched and will hold their first calls in a few weeks is GBTA Ladders.  There's not a site up yet (hopefully soon) but the goal is to bring emerging leaders in corporate travel together, offering mentoring, collaboration, and education.  

0
Tip of the Day
How does the specter of terrorism change how we conduct our business? The Answer requires that we understand our obligations, and that we acquire and use the available tooks to help us perform those duties. If you hold yourself out as an expert—a travel professional—you must conduct your business in line with that claim.
 
Paul Ruden
Former Executive Vice President for Legal & Industry Affairs, ASTA
Daily Top List

Five Things to Cross off Your Checklist before You Travel

1. Clean out your wallet or purse

2. Keep an eye out for large crowds

3.  Learn a little about money customs in the locale where you’re planning to travel

4. Keep your travel plans and destinations off of social media

5. Travel light and carry copies of important documents

 

-Smith & Howard Wealth Management

 

Top Stories
Being a Travel Agent in the Age of Terrorism: Part II, State Department Tools for the Agent Fiduciary
Being a Travel Agent in the Age of Terrorism: Part II, State Department Tools for the Agent Fiduciary

From Isis to Zika, the world is full of dangers. In his monthly First Friday column, former ASTA legal counsel Paul Ruden offers advice on how to protect your clients—and ultimately, your business.

8 Ways to Promote Your Travel Business to the Media
8 Ways to Promote Your Travel Business to the Media

How do you get the message about the value and services that your travel agency provides out to the media? James Shillinglaw offers up some tips in his weekly column.

One on One: Terry Dale, president, U.S. Tour Operators Association
One on One: Terry Dale, president, U.S. Tour Operators Association

TMR sat down with Terry Dale, president and CEO of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), to review the state of the tour business, his accomplishments so far, and what’s ahead for the industry.

Breaking News: Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger Set to Keynote ASTA Global Conference
Breaking News: Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger Set to Keynote ASTA Global Conference

Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger will be the keynote speaker at this year's ASTA Global Convention in Reno, NV, Sept. 25-28.

Revived Cruise Industry Is ‘Cozying Back Up’ to Agents
Revived Cruise Industry Is ‘Cozying Back Up’ to Agents

A resurgent cruise industry is looking to agents as allies in its hunt for higher-yield passengers, a new Phocuswright report finds. But will it last?

Heads Up Travel Agents: The ‘Dreaming Period’ for Summer Travel Starts Now
Heads Up Travel Agents: The ‘Dreaming Period’ for Summer Travel Starts Now

Everyone’s dreaming of summer—so now is the time for travel agents to grab their attention, says a new report from Sojern. 

News Briefs
Advertiser's Voice
Travel Market Report Spotlight: Celebrity Cocktails