Is your TMC contact properly trained?

Cheryll Watt, director, Development Training Strategies, says that a recent trend when it comes to training is to have courses reduced from the traditional three or four days course, to one day, or even half day courses.

Watt was presenting at the ABTA Conference, on November 7, and says that on top of having less time, they are also seeing requests to fit more into the limited time. “We are getting asked to combine a lot of the content into one, or half a day. This is causing a problem where before we were teaching one technical issue a day, clients are now asking us to combine multiple technical issues into a single day, or a half day. This makes it difficult balancing the shorter time with the course material, while also allowing consultants to do practical examples.”

Despite being asked to reduce the length of their courses, Watt says that when they receive feedback, especially from junior consultants, often they are told that more examples would have been beneficial. “When we do training, we need to make sure consultants have the GDS in front of them, the material has to be practical,” she said. “This allows them to gain confidence and apply the skills in the actual workplace.”

She says that DTS has to be aware of the TMC’s market, which is often a mix of leisure, business, and government travel. “The training examples need to cover real, live situations so consults are comfortable,” she said, adding that DTS is also careful to make sure training material is aimed at the right level of consultant.

Skills Gaps and Weaknesses


Watt says that some companies are choosing not to train senior staff, who can often be perceived as experts. She says, “Travel is dynamic. The experience of senior staff is not in question, but their ability to keep updated with what is happening in the industry can be a challenge.” She points out that these senior staff often become mentors for the juniors and may pass on outdated methodology. “There is a perception that training can be unnecessary or costly. This can be short sighted, training, even if it means time out of the office, gives consultants the necessary confidence, and skills, to do their job more adequately.”

Another challenge can be staff not wanting to attend training because of their workload. “Office  team work should come into play, with staff members who are not on training able to pick up the slack.,” She says, while the trainee should be able to come back and share the info with colleagues.


Internal training


Watt says that internal training can often be insular, or outdated. Further, she says it can be difficult for staff to make sales without little or no knowledge of what it is they are selling. But without training, junior staff may not feel comfortable asking senior employees for help. “They [junior staff] want to be self-sufficient, but this can often be where mistakes can happen,” she said. There is also the risk that junior staff who do not feel they have the necessary skills to improve or do their job properly may become despondent, and may slip into becoming order-takers. Escpecially, she says, if they are not challenged. “This ca leave them feeling like they should leave for another TMC, or, they may stop offering additional services that add value to customers, such as pre-seating, or car hire.”

“This can lead to the traveller not getting the service he/she expects,” Watt said. “If that happens they may stop seeing the value in their TMC, and may end up moving to another, or may even start doing their own bookings.”

DTS has offered training to the travel industry since 1991.  They are CATHSSETA accredited, and their training is done by accredited trainers.

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