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The Travel Institute launches Group Travel Course amid growing interest

Travel Institute

Scalable revenue model appealing but also more complex for agents.

FRAMINGHAM, MA – The Travel Institute has released a new Group Travel Specialist Course amid growing demand from travel agents to learn more about the niche market and its scalable revenue model for group reservations and bookings. 

While the concept of group travel is not new, its definition has broadened from off-the-shelf supplier trips to include highly customized experiences such as private family cruises to “bucket list” adventures to “affinity” trips for like-minded travelers. A recent survey of travel agents suggests 55% believe they will sell more group travel in 2024, and more than half say the revenue model is “very important” to their overall business.

“For advisors, it’s easy math. You can build and sell an itinerary for one traveler or family, or you can build and sell that same itinerary to 5, 10, or 20+ more travelers. It’s a great way to increase revenue without proportionately increasing effort and cost—as long as you have the knowledge and skills to be successful,” asserted Guida Botelho, CTIE, senior director of education, The Travel Institute.

What’s less easy, Botelho cautioned, is the effort that goes into creating custom group itineraries, as well as understanding the complexity of coordinating a group’s movement, special supplier agreements and contractual terms, costing, attrition, deadlines and more – all while ensuring traveler satisfaction throughout a group despite inevitable individual preferences. 

“Underneath the group travel umbrella is an entire nuanced world of travel,” Botelho continued. “Agents are attracted to the efficiency of the revenue model but they also need very specific knowledge and skills to take advantage of that opportunity. This course offers agents the nuts and bolts of group travel, along with insight into the softer skills and subtleties that can make all the difference for an agent’s success,” she explained. One such nuance explored in the course are the terms, conditions and clauses to use when working with group leaders, hotels and resorts, land-based tours, and cruise lines. Curriculum for the new online course also includes:

  • Understanding of the basics, benefits and unique challenges of group bookings;
  • Nuances of group categories including cruises, land-based itineraries and hotels/resorts; 
  • Strategies for finding groups and for best utilizing group leaders;
  • Best practices for branding and promoting groups;
  • How-to advice for the sales conversation, including the WOW effect, as well as effective communication to manage expectations and ensure traveler satisfaction; 
  • Tips on creating a business and marketing plan to grow and support group sales efforts; and
  • Considerations for costing and pricing, including sample language for terms and conditions, and other supplemental resources.

Group travel offers unlimited possibilities for a shared travel experience and can also provide travelers cost savings, added convenience and safety. The course, under development since early 2023 with the non-profit education leader, also synthesizes practical advice and tips from group travel expert advisors throughout the industry. Co-authored by Donald Capparella, CTC, chief executive officer and founder, Quality Travel Solutions, the course is further supported by sponsors ALG Vacations and Oceania Cruises. 

“Groups represent a significant opportunity for advisors who know how to maximize the possibilities. Still, it takes both education and effort to ensure success. Our collaboration with The Travel Institute will elevate the group travel knowledge for many advisors leading to greater sales opportunities,” explained Jacki Marks, global head of trade brands for ALG Vacations, who said her organization has seen explosive growth in the niche travel market and has dedicated expertise in-house accordingly.

Oceania Cruises’s Michael Von Wittenau, senior director of business development, agreed. “Group travel, whether with friends and family or with like-minded people who share a particular passion, is on the rise. Every advisor has group opportunities in their back yard,” Von Wittenau asserted. “At Oceania Cruises, we recognize success in this niche requires in-depth know-how, and we’re thrilled to collaborate with The Travel Institute on this course and to offer our extensive resources to guide our travel advisor partners seamlessly through the process and prepare them for success,” he continued.

Students who complete the Group Travel Specialist Course, pass their online, proctored exam, and submit an experiential checklist, earn standing as a Certified Group Travel Specialist as well as 10 continuing education units, or CEUs, toward maintaining active certification as a CTA, CTC or CTIE. Such designations are used by agents to further their expertise and then market their capabilities as a travel professional. The new course is one of many destination and niche specialist courses also available at no charge for The Travel Institute’s Premium Access subscribers, who regularly enjoy advance releases of new curriculum from the global education leader.

Theodore Koumelis
Co-Founder & Managing Director - Travel Media Applications | Website

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.