WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Looking to "train" more retailers to sell
European rail travel, Rail Europe Group here rolled out its new
TRAC online travel agent rail-specialist course.
TRAC, which stands for The Rail Agent Course, is available at
Rail Europe's trade Web site at http://agent.raileurope.com and replaces an earlier
print incarnation of the specialist program that had certified some
2,800 travel agent graduates.
The new program features updated training material, links to
rail maps and easier navigation, according to the company.
Roman Godzich, vice president of e-business at Rail Europe
Group, said the firm's first goal in developing TRAC was to supply
retailers with enough information to certify them as experts in
European rail travel.
"Rail is not as simple a product as car rental or booking air,"
he said. "Agents need some expertise to sell it."
The next objective? Automate Rail Europe's specialist program as
much as possible.
"It's relatively hands-off for us," Godzich said. "Agents go
through a full-fledged training course and receive a certificate
without our having to touch it."
In fact, Rail Europe has found most agents are using the program
after hours, between 9 p.m. and midnight, he said.
TRAC also is "in line" with Rail Europe Group's strategy of
migrating agents to online booking venues; the company recently
debuted improved and integrated agent-only booking sites for its
Destination Europe Resources (DER) air consolidator and Avanti
Destinations tour operator divisions.
And the online specialist program jibes with what Rail Europe
executives said they believe is a reciprocal relationship with
"We believe in supporting agents," said a spokeswoman. "Rail is
a very small piece of the European travel market -- it's a niche
segment -- but agents can make extra money on it."
Fabrice Morel, president and CEO of Rail Europe Group, agreed.
"We created this program to demystify European rail travel and make
it easier for agents to sell rail to more clients," he said in a
"Agents who are familiar with the advantages and wide range of
choices available are the ones who will sell more and earn
Some 300 retailers already have gone online and passed the Web
version of the course.
Travel agent participants who correctly answer 16 of 20
questions at the end of the course receive three continuing
education units toward certification from the Travel Institute, the
former Institute of Certified Travel Agents, and an e-mailed PDF
file with a diploma suitable for printing and framing.
Rail Europe, the official U.S. representative of more than 30
national railways, is a leading supplier of Continental European
and U.K. rail tickets and rail passes in North America.
Its parent company, the Rail Europe Group, also includes DER,
Avanti Destinations and EuroGroups.
To enroll in TRAC, visit http://agent.raileurope.com.
To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].
Book review: FROMMER'S EUROPE BY RAIL
Official Guide of Rail Europe
880 pages, $23.99
must-have handbook for
railpass-toting Americans touring west Europe by train, Frommer's
Europe by Rail -- Official Guidebook of Rail Europe -- combines
detailed railpass and railway network information with the latest
destination data from Frommer's.
For openers, the book suggests 10 self-guided itineraries, such
as Small Cities of the Benelux and Warm Weather Europe. The second
chapter -- Planning Your European Rail Trip -- offers standard
guidebook travel tips as well as detailed, railway-specific
information, including photos of rail car interiors, diagrams of
sleeping compartments, the latest railpass prices and even
seat-reservation fee tables. The book also includes a foldout
Eurail map and maps of the Paris and London subways.
The rest of the book consists of travel guides to the 17
countries participating in the Eurail Pass program as well as Great
Britain and the Czech Republic. So by "Europe," the guide means
those countries in which Rail Europe sells a lot of rail travel;
those looking for information on railways in Poland, the Baltics or
eastern Europe should look elsewhere. -- K.K.