The Travel Institute this month is rolling out its revamped Certified Travel Association (CTA) program.
Debuting on Jan. 17, the new curriculum features updated and expanded content. It will cover 15 topics, as opposed to the previous eight, created to reflect the new face of the travel agent, said Carla Smith, CTA and director of membership of The Travel Institute.
“We tell travel professionals this is going to set you apart. Consumers are getting smarter; they want a reputable travel agent with a professional certification,” Smith told Travel Market Report. Most of all, though, “it helps build confidence, that’s what we hear time and time again.”
The Travel Institute asked more than a dozen industry experts to look at its curriculum with fresh eyes, evaluating the course material and providing feedback.
The 15 modules are divided into two sections, practical skills and professional skills. Under professional skills, topics include business ethics; business writing skills; customer-focused selling; customer service; the art of listening and communicating; teamwork; time management; and understanding customer needs. Practical skills modules cover how to prevent credit card fraud; planning itineraries; selling all-inclusive resorts; selling escorted vacations; selling special interest travel; touring the world; and travel insurance.
For some veteran agents, this might be a refresher, but it helps go over skills that may have been forgotten over the years or in the new digital age, Smith said. “That’s what is going to sell your personalization and your business.”
Other enhancements made to the program include pre- and post-quizzes and “Did You Know” tips, and a more interactive feel for participants.
In addition, the course was made to be self-paced and designed for somebody on the go. While the CTA program can be completed in three to six months, either in print or online, agents can take up to a full year to complete their studies and test.
A virtual CTA workshop will also be offered, for an additional cost, to help participants prepare for the final exam. It also serves as a great place to network with other travel professionals, especially for home-based agents, Smith noted.
The Travel Institute requires a foundation of travel industry knowledge before enrolling in the CTA program, as well as passing the standardized CTA exam with a grade of 75 or higher and a minimum of 12 months of industry experience. However, travel professionals with at least 18 months of experience can choose the test-only option, earning the same industry-recognized certification without taking the full program. Once enrolled, agents have 12 months to complete the modules and take the final exam.