More than 68 million people visited Orlando in 2016, and those arrival numbers aren't slowing down anytime soon. With that in mind, the area's tourism board, Visit Orlando, has recently updated its online Orlando Travel Academy for travel agents


Danielle Hollander, chief marketing officer for Visit Orlando, said of the new tool, "Based on focus group feedback, we found that it was important to go to a new platform with multiple resources that included more video, up-to-date information and more "snackable" content. That's how people are learning online now."

Orlando is a complex destination, with much more than Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort to offer, though often that's the main draw. Visit Orlando has long been a proponent of arming their trade partners with information, resources and incentives to help their clients get the most from their Orlando vacation.

The training academy now provides information about what's new in the area for 2018, including not only new theme park openings and improvements but information on attractions, dining, nightlife and other points of interest outside the parks.

Visit Orlando has revamped its online training academy for 2018.
Visit Orlando has revamped its online training academy for 2018.

The tool also provides information on the basics of Orlando's layout and transportation from one attraction to another. Hollander said, "Once people have made the decision to come to Orlando, and they know what they want to do and see, they need to know the day-to-day: how to get around, do they need a car, how far it is from one attraction or hotel to another. That's also what we're providing in the training."

Agents who complete the training become certified Orlando Travel Experts. Those agents are eligible for discounts for use on Orlando visits as well as being listed in Visit Orlando's Travel Agent Lookup database widget on VisitOrlando.com. Graduates of the Orlando Travel Academy also gain four credits for the Travel Institute's continuing education program.

The online training academy also offers access to Visit Orlando's resource library with maps, vacation planning guides and events calendars. It also gives agents insider tips on how to upsell additional days or services of the destination to their clients.

Other improvements include the option to take the academy training in four languages: English, Spanish, German and Portuguese, the latter an essential inclusion to appeal to Brazilian guests, Orlando's third-largest market.

The training academy is also now available as a mobile-friendly and mobile-accessible site. "Sixty to 70% of our materials are accessed in a mobile environment," Hollander said. "People are on their phones consuming content. Out of our major audiences in North America, the U.K. and Brazil, 50% of those visitors to our site access the references on their mobile device, that's why offering the site as a mobile-responsive tool was essential."

Departure Lounge travel adviser Lauren LaCour has taken both the previous version and the new version of the Visit Orlando online training academy course. She has seen the benefits first-hand and praises Visit Orlando as an excellent provider of resources for agents. "Whether you're just selling the parks or looking to add other attractions for your clients, the tool is a great way to get to know the area inside and out, especially if you don't live in or haven't been to Orlando before," she said.

LaCour primarily works with families and finds that the online training academy has helped her provide added benefits to her clients. "There is so much going on in Orlando all the time, and the training helps me stay current with what's new," she said.

She specifically recalls an adventure-loving client who was looking for something a little different outside the parks. LaCour had read in the training about Discovery Cove, where guests can swim with dolphins. "They really loved it," she said. "It was something they never thought they could do in Orlando, and it really helped me stand out as an agent for them."

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