aking money by teaching others the
trade is what Dianne Tuttle, president of Academy Travel
Consultants of San Luis Obispo, Calif., has done well for more than
Her company now specializes in helping agency owners open their
own after-hours travel schools in less than three months' time to
cash in on the potential benefits that can come from a small
Tuttle started her school and retail location, Academy Travel
Agency, in 1989, but last year decided to begin teaching other
agents how to start their own schools.
After showing them how to market their schools, she details the
curriculum that worked for her. First, she advocates that they
teach would-be agents geography, telephone etiquette,
ticket-writing, passenger-name-record building and other computer
The three-month-long, twice-a-week course provides all the
skills beginning agents need to break into the travel business and
become independent contractors or salaried employees, she said.
In turn, Tuttle said, the agents-cum-teachers benefit from her
turnkey program because they gain reputations as travel experts;
expand their businesses; develop outside sales forces that play by
set rules; gain new employees from the ranks of their own travel
schools, and enjoy greatly improved cash flows by selling a product
that allows retention of 90% of the returns as opposed to only
According to Tuttle, an agency owner can nearly double the
initial $6,000 investment in the first few months. She said, for
example, if agency owners charge $1,295 per student and conduct two
sessions with a total of eight students, they will bring in $10,360
in three months.
"I think it is an opportunity for people interested in this part
of the travel field," said Tuttle. "There is such a need for good,
well-trained travel agents. I believe [getting] sound, solid
training is the only way to succeed in this industry."
The program prescribes that the school and its training be held
in real-life offices where agents-to-be can watch experienced
agents doing their jobs and talking to clients. "What better way to
train?" she asked.
Tuttle's $6,000 program fee paid by the agency owner excludes
books, which run about $100, and the CRS CD-ROM, which costs
between $80 and $115, depending on the CRS.
Two years' follow-up support for the new enterprise requires an
additional annual charge of $500.
For more information, call (805) 781-2630 or visit Tuttle's Web
site at www.thegrid.net/travelschools.
-- Michele SanFilippo
Step by step
gency owners who may be
interested in starting their own travel schools might be wondering
how long it all takes and what they receive for their money if they
pay for start-up services. Dianne Tuttle, who has a few agencies in
California under contract, described her three-month process of
getting an owner's new program up and running.
Steps involved in the process include a sales call to the
agency; a visit to discuss why the agency wants to start its own
school; a walk-through on what Tuttle has accomplished at her
school; signing the contract; picking up paperwork and sending it
to the government; teacher/student role playing; teaching the
instructors what they need to know for class, and providing a
binder complete with all the information she has gathered.
"Because my curriculum passes the regulations for the state of
California, which has some of the strictest laws around," said
Tuttle, "I can help agency owners set up schools that will be
state-licensed virtually anywhere."
She said she gives agents insights on how to market and
advertise their educational programs and also helps agencies get
licenses for those who will be teaching.
A list of resources she provides to agency owners includes
helpful Web sites, such as that of the Bureau for Private
Post-Secondary & Vocational Education at www.dca.ca.gov/bppve and the California Cooperative
Occupational Information System's private council at www.soicc.ca.gov/sti, plus a free listing for the
school in "The College Blue Book: Occupational Education."
As for who make the best candidates, Tuttle said, "The best
agencies are small, with only a few computer terminals, because
they don't have high overhead costs involved in running the
program." She added that they need to have three years in business
to facilitate getting their state's credentials. But how the
agencies choose to educate after completing Tuttle's program will
depend entirely on their styles and tastes. They can opt to have
all in-class sessions or to instruct students from home on
She said that agents can teach students their own office
procedures and important areas of concentration, if they like,
because many will end up working for the agency in the end.
"Different agencies can specialize as long as the basic skills are
being taught," said Tuttle.
She added that students want to walk away with computer skills,
so they must be taught the CRS and how to search and book travel on
"But the sky's the limit once you are up and running in terms of
what other courses and specialties you want to teach them," added
Keys to upselling
hink about the last time you
bought a car. Were you ready to counter any attempt to persuade you
to buy optional features -- the vibrating seats, the titanium
hubcaps, the neon pinstripes -- things you really didn't want?
At the same time, you probably wanted more than just a base
Most shoppers do, including those looking for a travel
experience. Yet, like car buyers, they still resist the upsell.
This presents you with a challenge but also opportunities.
thing to remember: There's nothing unethical about upselling.
If done right, upselling is simply offering a better level of
product quality or service to your clients. In other words, selling
up means selling more value.
Each of your customers will attach a different perception of
value to the extras and upgrades you recommend.
A repeat cruiser may perceive an outside stateroom with a
veranda to be well worth the extra cost. A first-time cruiser,
though, might fail to understand why it's worth the money.
It's your job to understand what your clients' value perceptions
Start by asking what they desire in their travel experience --
what they value.
If possible, refrain from talking about price up front. Instead,
ask: "If you could plan the ideal vacation, what would it be?"
Based on the response, ask about their budget.
Your clients might be surprised to find that their ideal
vacation fits within their budget.
If, however, their stated budget falls short of the product they
desire, you're positioned to upsell. How? By suggesting ways for
them to obtain the benefits they desire.
You'll be upselling from their stated budget, but in reality,
you're simply selling them what they already told you they
Numerous studies show that consumers are happiest with the most
expensive choice they can afford. The easiest way to get them there
is to let them lead the way.
Marc Mancini is a professor of travel at West Los Angeles