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School’s not out for travel agents.
Tourist boards have continued to educate travel agents about their destinations during the coronavirus pandemic, wanting to ensure agents have all the information they need to sell the destinations when travel rebounds.
Kayla Shubert, marketing manager for the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Canadian office, notes that tourist board did some fine tuning to its program for the travel agent community.
“We do have an online agent specialist program called Thai the Knot,” she reports. “Although the program has existed for several years, we did a complete revamp of the program and relaunched it to the travel industry in August 2020.”
The “extensive restructuring” was designed to further support agents at “every stage of their experience with learning, promoting and selling this incredible destination.” Available free for advisors, the program’s training, marketing and sales resources can be accessed whether advisors are online at their desk, or offline and on the go by downloading the Thai the Knot Sales Companion from the iOS or Google Play store.
Key features and enhancements include:
Learning: Content updates now focus on 4 educational pillars — Amazing Thailand, The Experience, Thailand, Naturally, Destination Romance. Advisors can also stay informed on Thailand Safety Information with the most current pandemic-related content directly on the home page.
Promoting: A newsletter template builder is now included for advisors to create Thailand-branded newsletters and easily share with their clients. The video and image libraries have also been enhanced with new content for easy viewing and sharing.
Selling: Virtual Tours have been added to help advisors bring the destination to life for their clients. Advisors can now tour many of Thailand’s top hotels from the comfort of their home. Additional sales content has also been updated to include Entry Requirements, Sample Itineraries, Destination Guides and more.
In 2021, look to the Thai the Knot Specialist Program to learn more about new hotel openings in the destination, a series of webinars for advisors, rewards, and virtual events.
The Thai the Knot Specialist Program is powered by TravPRO Mobile, billed as the “leading mobile technology for Advisors to Learn, Sell and Connect anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
Pascal Prinz, who oversees Switzerland Tourism in this country, says its Switzerland Travel Academy has proven very popular with Canadian agents.
“We have seen a strong increase in registrations and graduations. We congratulate all the certified Switzerland Travel Experts across Canada. I’m convinced that this training will pay off for future bookings. Knowledge is power. We have added new modules with the latest news in 2021 and new destinations. We introduced new hotels, art exhibitions and hiking trails.
Paul Larcher, who carries the flag for Tourism Australia in this country, says that tourism body has a comprehensive program for agents.
“Tourism Australia created the Aussie Specialist Program for agents and representatives to learn about all things Australia,” he states. “This platform is designed to deliver the knowledge and skills required to sell travellers on visiting all of the breathtaking locations in Australia. The program helps agents understand the diverse and unforgettable experiences that Australia offers in hopes of creating Aussie Specialists who can confidently sell visits.
“Despite an unpredictable year for international travel, the Aussie Specialist Program has adapted to help travel advisors stay up to date and excited about Australia. The programs keeps its audience engaged by finding new and inventive ways to interact with Aussie Specialists. Online webinars, offering conversational and interview-style presentations help attendees stay involved in conversations about Australia. A Facebook group brings together Aussie Specialists, offering a space for community development and information sharing. An exciting initiative called ‘G’Day from Aus’ offers short messages of support from Australian products. These messages let advisors know that sellers are missing their North American mates and that they’re waiting for them and their clients when the time is right. Talkabout Tuesdays, an initiative that started out by offering 5-minute broadcast interviews on Facebook initially had Tourism Australia’s North American staff interviewing each other so Aussie Specialists could get to know them. The program now offers interviews with some of the Premier Aussie Specialists who share their years of knowledge and tips on selling Australia. The Aussie Specialist Program incentivizes participants to take a more in-depth dive into Australian travel, encouraging them to use the down-time to review offerings in different regions.”
Larcher adds that The Aussie Specialist Program continues to find new ways to get advisors thinking about Australia. “When international travel resumes the efforts to keep advisors engaged in all things Australia will translate to them feeling confident selling Australia as an ideal post-pandemic destination.”
Shubert says the Tourism Authority of Thailand was quick to react to the coronavirus pandemic.
“From the onset, we realized that we had to tweak our focus to fall in line with current market conditions,” she reports. “Our mission quickly switched from sales to trade support and education. We spent time listening to our trade partners. We also knew we had to offer moral support as so many of our close partners were facing serious challenges. Together, we engaged in creative virtual activities that allowed continued education and updates of Thailand in fun and interesting ways.
“Our efforts included a complete revamp of our Thai the Knot Agent Specialist program, interactive destination webinars, monthly destination updates that included Thailand’s success in dealing with COVID, our new SHA (safety & health accreditation recently launched by the Thai government for all suppliers involved in tourism, updates on special visa options for Canadians, sharing of inspiring new video content, as well as new and unique product offerings such as our recently launched Golf Quarantine package which allow guests to enjoy daily golf during their quarantine experience. We also hosted many online events focused on wellness practices—all designed to give our travel partner friends a little Thai inspiration through a sampling of what awaits in Thailand once travel does resume. Our mission forward is to build an even stronger relationship with our travel partners — we all need each other to achieve the comeback that we know is on the horizon.”
Prinz also says his tourism board has had to adapt to the new realities, and has been focusing much more on digital and inspirational initiatives.
“We have teamed up with the talented Torontonian photographer Michael Sidofsky. His stunning Switzerland images went viral on social media. Our goal to show Switzerland through the lens of a young Canadian proved to resonate well with Canadians.”
Larcher says Tourism Australia has shifted its approach to promoting travel, given the changing landscape for tourism over the past year.
“We continue to encourage travellers to stay home and stay safe until both international and domestic borders open up. We want to ensure travellers that when the time is right, Australia will be ready to welcome them back with all of the breathtaking experiences they have been craving during their time at home.
“Some recent findings suggest that travellers are eager to get out and about more and reconnect by exploring nature through travel. Australia’s wide open spaces and breathtaking natural experiences will surely be an attraction for both domestic and international travellers when restrictions are lifted.Trends also suggest that travellers are yearning for restorative travel experiences as well as purposeful travel experiences. Travellers want to shake off stresses of 2020 and give back to communities abroad affected by the circumstances of a turbulent year. These shifts in consumer interest highlight some really exciting opportunities for Tourism Australia. When the time is right for international travel to return to Australia, visitors will be able to indulge in the great food and wine, spectacular nature and wildlife experiences, and uniquely Australian arts and culture moments that Australia is well known for. Australia is home to so many incredible and diverse landscapes, offering plenty of open-air experiences — from the Outback to the Great Barrier Reef as well as the many Great Walks of Australia and more – visitors are literally spoilt for choice.”
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