Uniglobe Travel Center Unveils Mentor Program for New-to-Industry Agents
By Mimi Kmet
October 12, 2012 5:12 PM
Uniglobe Travel Center (UTC), the host agency division of Uniglobe Travel, has unveiled UTC Mentor U, an interactive mentoring program for prospective agents who are new to the travel industry. The six-month program is designed to give students a comprehensive education on building a business and selling travel. The curriculum includes product knowledge, administrative tasks, sales, customer service, technology and marketing.
Prospective agents must attend coaching sessions that include topics like marketing plans, preferred suppliers and sales skills. They also must complete one or more specialty programs from a list of suppliers provided by UTC; attend one or more events from a list provided by UTC (including the UTC annual conference); complete four or more bookings, including at least two preferred supplier bookings; provide proof of errors and omission insurance; attend 10 or more UTC preferred supplier webinars; interact with 10 or more UTC mentors; and participate in joint customer calls with their coaches.
UTC provides two coaches who are on the UTC staff, each with 30 years of experience in travel, and each of whom have been frontline agents, according to Betsy Geiser, CTA, UTC’s vice president. One coach focuses on marketing, setting up a business, the sales cycle, and other practical issues. The other focuses on technology provided by suppliers and by UTC, as well as invoicing, live calls with clients, and other technical topics.
New agents will be on the phone listening to the sales the process as coaches speak with clients. Coaches will work individually with recruits and, as the prospective agents sit in on more calls, “they will take on more of the work until they can handle the whole presentation by themselves,” Geiser told TravelPulse.com.
Beside the two coaches, UTC provides five supplier mentors and five agent mentors, as well as guest mentors and members of the UTC management team to help train agents. As the host agency gets more recruits, it will provide a virtual classroom for learning, via phone and webinars, with about 10 students per class, according to Geiser.
UTC has offered a mentor program before but has revamped it to become UTC Mentor U. “Travel agents in the past learned by listening to people around them,” Geiser said. “We want to be very interactive.”
To attract new agents, UTC has launched a grassroots recruitment effort in key Southwestern and Midwestern markets. As part of that effort, staff members, including those in remote offices, will wear T-shirts when they’re out and about, which bear the message, “For a really good time become a professional travel agent,” Geiser said. UTC also will promote the program at travel shows and via press releases.
UTC isn’t the only travel agency organization that trains new-to-industry agents. Cruise Planners, a franchisor for home-based agents, has long used the slogan, “No experience necessary,” and offers a training program for prospective agents. And Nexion recently launched a mentorship program called “Agents Connecting Together” (ACT), which aims to allow Nexion agents to become mentors or mentees. Nexion matches mentors with significant business experience or specific expertise to mentees who may have less experience in a certain area of their business.