Great Britain: British Agent Program Debuts

The British Tourist Authority believes its new Brit Agent specialist program is coming at the ideal time for travel agents. "This is the right time to be introducing such a program," says Louise Bryce, program developer. "Travel agents are responding to changes in the marketplace and to the effect that technological advances are having on their profession."

The new program answers the need arising from an increasing focus on leisure sales along with a shift to fee-based revenue structures in light of airline commission cuts, according to the BTA. In addition, clients have become more experienced and have access to more information and booking options via the Internet.

The Brit Agent program was developed in response to the increasing need by the industry for more specialist destination knowledge, Bryce says. "It is imperative that the BTA, as a National Tourist Board, provides travel agents with the resources they need to sell more business to Britain and to increase the value of that business," she says. "The BTA has worked very closely with ICTA to ensure an exceptionally high standard of educational content within the program and, through consultation with the industry, to provide the right range of benefits and rewards that agents who are prepared to invest in training deserve."

According to the BTA's research, agents cited acknowledgement and a preferred relationship with the National Tourist Office as being very important to an agent specialist program, along with recognition by a professional body.

The BTA says the Scottish Tourist Board, Wales Tourist Board, Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Jersey & Guernsey Tourism, plus five English regions are supporting the new Brit Agent program along with 24 travel and travel-related companies.

The main elements of the new Brit Agent program include the following.

  • An eight-module self-learning manual. Modules include Selling Britain, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands; London; Independent Travel; Themed Touring, and Special Events and Activities.
  • On joining the program agents will receive a variety of benefits including a monthly BritFax, detailing product offers and the latest destination information; Britain promotional videos; a BritFile, containing useful stationery items and BTA reference material; exclusive access to BTA study tours; exclusive access to a Brit Agent area on the BTA's Web site, and a priority hotline to the BTA's training information counselors.
  • On passing an ICTA-administered, 100-question multiple choice test, agents will be eligible for an academic credit of one elective in the CTC curriculum. If they are already CTC-qualified, they will be eligible for continuing education credits. They will also have the right to use the Brit Agent logo on business cards and promotional material; be referred to more than one million consumers who contact the BTA annually through its Web site or call center or visit its consumer shows, and receive a bulk supply of BTA literature.
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