Jamie Biesiada
Jamie Biesiada

There are a number of different learning methods employed by educators in all sectors.

Travel Leaders of Tomorrow (TLOT), a program under the Internova Travel Group umbrella that trains new advisors, employs a four-step structure, "the tell, show, do and review," program director Heather Kindred said.

"Tell them what you're going to teach them, show them what it looks like or how to do it, then have them do it, and then either review it or apply it," Kindred said. "That's a full cycle of learning."

Kindred said its approach at creating a full learning cycle is what sets TLOT, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, apart as a training program.

"We stick with that formula. That formula works," she said.

For example, students will learn about the different components of booking a trip, then get together in a small group and create a vacation, the "do" part of the process. Then they present it, fulfilling the "review" portion.

"Everything we do, we try to pull that full circle in," Kindred said.

Also key to working with newbie advisors is catering to adult learners who have other responsibilities in their lives, she said. The program, which is completely virtual, offers flexibility to those who need it.

TLOT started on April 13, 2013, and has seen more than 2,200 people move through its programs. Kindred said it was founded with the idea that the industry needed fresh perspectives brought by new travel advisors.

Finding the right fit

Potential students are interviewed before they register for the program to clear up misconceptions they have about the profession and to find out their motivation for joining TLOT.

TLOT offers both an Independent Learner track, which is self-paced, and a Virtual Campus, which includes a study cohort, guest lectures and a final business presentation.

While the program is an Internova initiative, graduates are free to join any host agency or consortium once their studies are complete.

In the 10 years since the program began, Kindred has noticed an interesting trend: "Where they are, or where their past is, has absolutely no correlation to their success."

For instance, Kindred years ago interviewed a single mother who worked on a manufacturing line for an automaker. Kindred wouldn't necessarily have said she'd be a good fit for a travel advisor, but she went through the program and now successfully sells girls getaways.

Curriculum changes

During its 10th anniversary year, TLOT is revamping its curriculum. It will now include a new focus on corporate travel to meet a need in the industry.

Additionally, instead of a 17-week program, Kindred said, TLOT is condensing it into a 13-week program.

"This is a world where we want to do things now," Kindred said. "We want things very fast. We don't have a lot of patience. So sometimes, we are adapting to what we think the community needs, as opposed to what we think is best to the learner."

TLOT plans to try that condensed schedule for a year to see how it works for both the students and instructors.

With class sizes averaging 20-25 students again after softer years in 2021 and 2022, Kindred said, "The future is bright."

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