Is Training Travel Agents Still Essential?

Jessica Simpson, Head of Partnerships at Travel Gossip gives unique insight into the current travel agent landscape and whether virtual, in-person and online training should be a top priority for Visit USA members.

Most Visit USA members will already be aware that Travel Gossip is the UK’s largest and most active community for the travel trade, with 27,000+ members – and more importantly this number is still growing, with 100 new members joining the group each week.

We don’t like to mention the ‘C’ word anymore (Covid), but for the context of this piece it’s important. The pandemic was the straw that broke the camel’s back for a lot of people within the travel industry – we’re susceptible to events such as ash clouds, political unrest and virus outbreaks.

Four years on and a lot of new and existing travel professionals – including travel agents - are joining or returning to the industry we all love.

These travel agents are thirsty for knowledge. New agents are keen to receive education and existing agents are eager to diversify their skillset, allowing them to boost their sales.
Increasingly, we hear more from tour operators that they must aid tourist boards in destination training. This is due to the sheer volume of new agents entering the industry, not a reflection on tourist boards.

A travel agent’s USP has always been their customer service and knowledge - whether it be on destinations, hotels, flights etc. The adage never rings truer – an agent will only sell what they know.

A prime example of this thirst for knowledge was the launch of Travel Gossip’s Bootcamp series of virtual events - intense training sessions designed to get agents up to speed on a particular destination or certain types of holiday.  Our initial New to Cruise Bootcamp was a huge success and led to our New to USA Bootcamp in partnership with Visit USA, which attracted 550+ registered travel agents and received 60,000+ views of participating partner training sessions.

Some comments from agents:

‘I really enjoyed the USA Bootcamp and learnt so much from each of the speakers. I found it really interesting to learn about lesser visited areas/cities in the USA such as Kentucky, Sonoma Country & the Cincy region’

‘I loved the bootcamp, I loved that it was in bite sized chunks that made it easy to attend and take in lots of information in small periods of time, I retain more that way and it is manageable to take notes’

So, in what format should you give training to travel agents?

Virtual training

In our experience the sweet spot for new announcements and updates on your destination or product is five minutes – and crucially, host it on-demand. The days of asking anyone, let alone travel agents, to log in at 11am for 1 hour are long gone – think to yourself, when did you last set aside that amount of time, at a specific date and time to watch a webinar?

We conducted some qualitative research on behalf of an Orlando attraction recently and it was revealed that when agents must tune in for long periods of time, they often listen to them in the background, camera off whilst doing chores - confessing to not giving the proper dedication to do the webinar any justice.

If you’re seeking more in-depth training, 15 minutes is the maximum duration - and advertise it as that. You’re more likely to get better uptake. This allows enough time for you to deliver a strong, concise PowerPoint presentation and utilise any in-destination video. Make it visual, don’t rely on 15-minutes of talking.

Travel Gossip has a popular series of ‘Take 5’ video broadcasts, delivered with suppliers and a member of the Travel Gossip team, in a punchy five-minute video which is hosted on demand, enabling travel agents to watch in their own time, often during a break within their working hours – not playing in the background whilst they’re cooking in the evening. Our Take 5 broadcasts consistently reach a minimum of 3,000 views with the highest performers reaching 5,000.

In-person training

Post-pandemic we’ve seen a huge lift in attendance of in-person travel agent events. If you’re thinking of hosting your own event(s), consider locations outside of big cities too. One of the reasons the Travel Gossip Roadshow is so popular is because is we host these training events in some lesser-known locations too, not just in the big cities – where agents really appreciate us bringing suppliers to educate them.

Variety is the spice of life. Whilst destination-specific events are great for targeting specialist agents, cast your net wider and attend training events where there are multiple suppliers not necessarily dedicated to the USA.  

With 46 of our own roadshow events in 2024 (that’s two a week from February to November - an increase of six more events than last year), Travel Gossip is the leading supplier of travel agent face-to-face training events in the UK.

Online Training

Access to on-demand training is essential. Having these platforms available for agents to increase their knowledge and access information in preparation, or whilst talking to, a customer is key.

During our research, agents said a library of video reels in addition to images is useful for them to utilise on social media. This request is significantly prominent amongst the fastest-growing type of travel agent segment – the homeworker. Almost all their business comes from social media or referrals, so the power of video is critical for them. Think authentic videos and point-of-view experiences, not corporate videos. Agents say this type of content enables them to learn at the same time.

Travel Gossip is developing its own ground-breaking online training, currently being trialled with a tourist board, so watch this space or contact us to register your interest.


Make training and education your top priority. With an abundance of new travel agents, existing agents seeking to diversify and the exponential rise of the homeworker agent who doesn’t have access to resources, a strong mix of virtual, in-person and online training enables you to educate travel agents at every level, in formats and times that suit them.

Posted on: 04/04/2024

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