While travel advisors have access to myriad training opportunities from their agency's consortium and suppliers, agencies, too, have a responsibility to provide their advisors with the kind of training that will build their skills and businesses.

"Agencies need to not count on their consortium partner to do all the training," said Becky Powell, president of New York-based Protravel International. "They should complement it with destination and product training, but we as an agency have to take ownership of how we train our advisors and how we grow their business. That's been a passion of mine since I came onboard."

Powell, who joined Protravel in January 2018 after holding roles at Andrew Harper Travel and Virtuoso, among other travel companies, was speaking at a recent media event at the Chatwal in New York. There, she unveiled Protravel's The Journeys, a training and development program designed for luxury travel advisors.

Journeys includes components for advisors, suppliers and travelers. For advisors, it offers professional development, business coaching, mentoring, lead generation and exclusive events. Suppliers get access to those advisors and can provide them with dedicated marketing materials, educational opportunities and exclusive deals. Travelers will get exclusive offers if their agent is enrolled in the program.

While participating advisors will have access to an online learning management system housing much of what they will need, there will also be offline components of The Journeys.

Protravel is owned by Travel Leaders Group (TLG) and is a member of Virtuoso.

Powell said in an interview after the media event that through Virtuoso, Protravel advisors have access to "great training," including coursework on products and destinations, as opposed to training on things like how to be a good salesperson.

"We've all talked about how do you become a million-dollar advisor, but then how do you go from that $1 million to being a $2 million advisor?" Powell said. "I think that responsibility falls on the agency. I don't think we can count on people outside of our agency to educate or help our advisors become true business people."

The Journeys program targets both new advisors and existing agents who want to elevate their business.

Protravel is encouraging new-to-the-industry advisors to first complete TLG's Travel Leaders of Tomorrow (TLOT) program to get a solid grounding in the industry, then enroll in The Journeys.

Powell called TLOT a "foundation." The Journeys will build upon that in ways tailored to the agency and how it works. Protravel agents also have access to training from Virtuoso, which they turn to when they want to specialize in something.

"That's where they really use Virtuoso: for that product and destination knowledge for specialization," she said. "But then they have to come back to us" to find out how to apply that knowledge to their business, as well as communicating their value proposition and worth to clients.

"That's where Protravel is really helping them," she said.

Agencies also have a responsibility to train agents on their tailored systems and marketing programs, Powell said. At Protravel, that includes training on Sabre.

Providing the right mix of training, from Protravel itself and from other industry sources like TLOT and Virtuoso, Powell said, will help attract new agents, whether they're new to the industry or new to Protravel.

"I do think it's why people are going to want to join us, whether they want to take their career to the next level if they're at [another] agency, or if they want to come into the business brand new," she said.

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