ike many schools offering programs in
travel and tourism around the country, the Community College of
Denver in Auraria, Colo., has been faced with declining numbers in
recent years. For the last two years, it has struggled to keep its
"We've had problems with decreasing [numbers of] students in the
travel and tourism program, but this is not exclusive to our
school," claimed Fred Tiller, coordinator and sole teacher of the
travel and tourism program at the school since last fall.
This 35-year industry veteran and former president of ASTA's
Rocky Mountain Chapter has spent 12 of his years as an agent and 10
years combined as a wholesaler and at the airlines.
With his strong industry background, Tiller recognized the need for
change. In February, his school became a Travel Agent Proficiency
test site and a licensed learning center for the Institute of
Certified Travel Agents, the only one of its kind in the state.
Now the school can offer a mix of learning options to would-be
agents and industry veterans alike. Students have the choice of
pursuing a two-year degree, taking ad hoc courses or enrolling in
the travel and tourism certification for two semesters.
"We at the Community College of Denver share a commitment to
ongoing training and education," said Tiller.
"Most of the programs that failed or are failing have locked
students into either a degree or a certificate.
"Our philosophy is, 'Take whatever courses you need to take to
get where you want to be.' "
The program's curriculum addresses the agent's need for
specialization by including three ICTA destination-specialist
courses this fall: on Latin America, western Europe and
As the program grows, Tiller said, he would like to offer all 12
"My goal is to remind students that the industry is bigger than
airline tickets," he said.
The school gets a wide variety of students, from agents who want
to run their own businesses, to new entrants, retirees and those
The average class size is 12 to 15 students, but Tiller would
like to widen the program to attract 18 or 20 students per
There are 22 courses in the two-year degree program, which
requires courses such as math, introduction to business,
keyboarding, introduction to PC application, legal writing,
principles of sales and marketing, speech, general psychology,
business communications and customer service.
Eleven of the courses are specific to the travel and tourism
The college's travel and tourism program offers scholarship
opportunities, on-line courses and flexibility, including the
freedom to substitute courses if students have specific needs they
want to address, such as learning a foreign language or management
"I want to give them a well-rounded set of skills and education
they can take into the industry," he said.
"The joy I get from teaching is sharing my 35 years of
experiences across several segments of the business."
-- Michele SanFilippo
o spread the word about the
Community College of Denver's enhanced travel and tourism program,
its coordinator, Fred Tiller, will be conducting a travel career
seminar on May 24 aimed at all Denver-area public high schools.
"I am placing a heavy emphasis on selling skills and personal
development," said Tiller. "If we can find people who are good at
selling and interacting with clients, then we can train them for
The college is in the process of establishing partnerships with
companies in various industry sectors, so that it can provide
placement opportunities for its students.
"We also need to establish a stronger partnership with agents to
help get students into our programs and employees into agencies
because the industry benefits in the long run," he said.
added that in the 35 years he's been in this industry, he has never
seen demand as high or supply as low.
"All these needs aren't going to go away, but we have to get the
support of agents or programs such as ours will go away," he
Tiller claimed that the industry's hiring crisis will remain a
constant if agents adhere to the notion that they have to hire only
candidates with travel experience.
He emphasized hiring agency candidates based on their attitude,
sales skills and customer service.
"Look for these fundamental qualities when you hire, and then
train for ongoing education in the business," he said.
"This is a people business, so you can't put a price tag on
people and experience in this type of work."
Tiller added that the growth in the airline industry alone in
the next few years is going to be enormous, forcing all other
segments to grow in response.
Plus clients now have more freedom and time to travel than ever
"The beautiful thing about our industry is that we are selling
something that everyone wants to buy," he said.
What service means to your bottom line
uality customer service has a
compelling impact on profit and costs, particularly when examining
client retention in the service industry.
Losing clients to the competition is a significant cost to your
business when you consider:It costs five to six times more for a company to attract a new
customer than to keep a current one.Approximately 65% of your business comes from repeat clients.
Therefore, a significant cost is incurred in attracting the other
35%.A 2% increase in client retention affects the bottom line the
same as cutting costs by 10%.
market, we cannot afford to lose good clients. The following are
examples of how to acknowledge and express your appreciation. By
taking certain steps, you tighten the relationship with your client
and lessen the appeal of seeking the competition.Referrals. Do your clients send their friends, relatives or
business associates to you? How do you acknowledge and thank them
for sending new business?Repeat clients. If longtime clients feel that you no longer
value their business, they might decide to give the competition a
try. What are you doing to tell repeat clients that you appreciate
their loyalty?Suggestions. You don't need a "suggestion box" to receive ideas
from your customers. Sometimes, clients, who are the ones who
interact with your business, have the best ideas. How do you
collect ideas and let customers know that you've heard them?Technology. With global competition, providing excellent
customer service has become vital. How does your customer interact
with your agency? Have you tested all communication channels to
determine how customer friendly they are?
Technology can work to your disadvantage if it is too
complicated, inefficient or leaves the client wondering.
It can also be used as an efficient acknowledgment tool to let
customers know you have not forgotten them and appreciate their
Julie Olley is the owner of the London, Ontario-based consulting
firm Perfect Word. She can be reached at [email protected] or by visiting her Web site at