Travel Leaders embarks on agent recruitment effort

By Kate Rice
Travel Leaders is launching a campaign to attract young travel agents and to place them with Travel Leaders agencies.

The initiative tackles a major problem in retail travel, that of an aging sales force. Even new entrants are often on a second career.

“It’s no secret that our industry is significantly challenged by an increasingly aging travel agent population with too little new, young blood coming into our ranks,” said Barry Liben, CEO of Travel Leaders Group.

Travel Leaders will offer training through a variety of channels and agency internships. The Travel Institute is providing the core curriculum and technology platform.

Suppliers including Celebrity Cruises, Delta, Funjet Vacations, Globus, Hertz, MLT Vacations, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Sabre Travel Network, Travel Guard and Travel Insured International will sponsor program components.

Jackie Friedman, president of Nexion (a host agency under the Travel Leaders Group umbrella), is heading the recruitment/training program. She also is running a Nexion initiative designed to attract new talent to the industry.

Industry educator Heather Kindred will be program director. Most recently, Kindred was a continuing-education training specialist for the University of Washington Medicine in Seattle.

She has also done training in travel, working with companies including Holland America Line, Carlson Wagonlit Travel and AAA (Washington State) dating back to 1996.

Friedman said that the program has three goals: improve perceptions of the viability of a travel agent career, develop a comprehensive curriculum that covers industry needs and produce graduates who can fill positions in Travel Leaders agencies.

The first class will be early in 2013.
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