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Education and Training in Travel Industry

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The area of education and training had become a megabucks business within the travel industry. The intensifying paces of the industry, the growing sophistication, and the pervasiveness of computer systems have made on-the-job training virtually a thing of the past. Everyone wants to hire experienced people, and no one has time or money to hire trainees. It has become almost essential for anyone striving to enter the travel industry to get a foundation at a reputable travel school.

In addition to the education and training of neophytes, companies are increasingly introducing their own programs to raise productivity or advance workers. Trade associations also mount training and education programs, employing a staffer to oversee programs.

Apart from some 200 colleges, universities, and community colleges that have introduced travel and tourism programs, more than 600 vocational schools have been opened by educators as well as travel agents. With tuitions ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, travel training has become a significant profit center.

Most of the teaching positions at the better vocational schools are reserved for industry people (such as working travel agents and executives from the airlines and hotels). Certain kinds of courses, however, can be taught by professional educators.

The area of training and development is becoming increasingly important to many major travel companies. The hotel industry has always been particularly keen on training, but travel agency chains (such as Rosenblatt), car rental companies, and even Amtrak have programs, as well. In this area, a professional educator can create his or her own position by targeting a company with a need.

Most educators come out of the industry first, sometimes winding up a career in travel in the education side, like William Prigge, who had been a top executive with Hilton Hotels before joining the faculty of Cornell Hotel School and the New School for Social Research. Many of them move into education in the middle of their careers; some, at the start. Some professors collect their master's degrees and Ph.D.'s in recreation, hospitality, tourism, or some other related topic; teach; cultivate relationships in the industry; and move into the industry. The demand for tourism professors has burgeoned with the explosion in enrollments and mass openings of programs at schools, and some instructors have been tapped from other disciplines.

Perhaps more so than in other disciplines taught in school, instructors do become directly involved in the industry. The dynamics of the industry demands it, and there is pressure on the schools to offer more relevant presentations. Many professors become members of major trade associations. 'That was one of the things that were wrong with some of the advanced-degree programs of the past-they were disassociated from the industry," said one veteran.

One of the advantages to being on the education side, versus the industry side, is the amount of free time; teachers generally work for nine months and have summers and holidays off to pursue their own tourism interests. There are also opportunities to author texts, conduct research, consult, and conduct study abroad programs.

The Society of Travel and Tourism Educators allows members (about 250) to exchange ideas and techniques. One of the aims of the society is to cultivate stronger ties with the industry in order to make programs more relevant.

Trade Associations

The travel industry is distinguished by its fragmentation and segmentation. Far from being a singular entity, it is composed of some 5, 00,000 businesses in dozens of different categories. Consequently, dozens of associations represent their separate interests, and one massive umbrella organization, the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), represents them all.

Association work is a very specialized career, but working with travel-related associations presents yet another avenue for a career in travel. Associations may be formed primarily as a lobbying group, such as the Airport Operators Council, or as a marketing organization, such as Cruise Lines International Association. Associations may have a staff of one or a few, but some employ hundreds of people, with much the same organization as a large corporation.

Pat Duricka Kelly was director of communications for TIA for five and a half years before moving on to become public relations director for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), where she was responsible for overseeing media relations, developing industry promotional programs, and supervising the association's publications. "In some ways, association work is analogous to corporate jobs," she commented. "The experience gained could be used as a jumping-off point to private enterprise, and vice versa. But it is more common, at the higher level, to come from the private sector into the association-in the travel industry, especially."

People who work in associations usually field. They move up through the from organization to organization and rarely into private enterprise, expect perhaps as for example, had been with a professional and then went to an association representing the cc before going to TIA. "I'm in the association but association slot in order to promote general be concerned about carving out market share, based on satisfying needs of members."

Associations have basic functions such as potent, annual meetings, information sharing relations and lobbying, and public relation development. Similar to marketing in the privacy even have a marketing function and include f functions include meeting planning, exhibit bop orate travel. The largest associations also have areas of legal counsel, research administration, and trade show planning.

To fulfill these functions, associations employ educators and trainers, meeting planners, public relations specialists, writers, marketers, lawyers, research analysts, and administrators, as well as artists, designers, librarians, journalists, and filmmakers.

"For women and minorities, particularly, associations may provide a proving ground of what you can do, far beyond what is required in the paycheck," noted Kelly. For example, working in associations provides an opportunity to head committees, speak at functions, and publish articles.

Working for a travel-related association has particular appeal. The character of the industry is transcended into the character of the trade association," Kelly said. The kind of members-people in travel-tend to be creative, lively, gregarious, sociable. There is comradely. There is a travel industry 'type,' even more so a 'hotel type,' etc. It permeates the trade association."

There is also generally more opportunity to travel (primarily to annual conventions, trade shows, seminars, and board meetings) than at other trade organizations. However, "just wanting to travel is not a reason to work for an association. You must be interested in the association business itself and the industry it represents in particular."

Deregulation has made for an especially exciting time, a period of challenge and flux, and has made the role of trade associations even more vital. Organizations like the Air Transport Association and the National Tour Association had to change their focus (NTA even changed its name from National Tour Brokers Association). "As the industry's needs change, so do the associations." This was the case for IAAPA, where Kelly helped introduce marketing research.

Kelly noted that association management work has also changed with the times. "There was a time when you could say association work was institutional in terms of stability and growth. There were few cutbacks, and jobs were dependable." There is less security today, but positions still tend to last longer than those in the private sector.

While the association field is becoming more professional, it is still relatively easy to get into, particularly through clerical positions, administration, or law. Advancement often comes by leaving one trade association for another. Salaries of association staff generally reflect those of the industry it represents.

Association work provides an opportunity to participate in an industry but at a certain objective distance. It also provides a complete view of the entire industry. "It makes you a great generalist."

The travel industry is particularly rich in associations. Some examples include:

Air Transport Association., Washington, D.C.

American Bus Association

Washington, D.C.

American Hotel & Motel Association, Washington, D.C. American Recreation Coalition American Ski Federation

American Society of Travel Agents, Washington, D.C. Association of Retail Travel Agents, Arlington, VA Cruise Lines International Association, New York Highway Users Federation

Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International: International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions International Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus National Air Carrier Association, Washington, D.C.

National Campground Owners Association National Caves Association National Restaurant Association National Ski Areas Association National Tour Association, Lexington, KY Recreation Vehicle Industry Association U.S. Tour Operators Association, New York

Other examples are:

Association of Group Travel Executives American Association of Airport Executives Institute of Association Management Companies International Association of Fairs and Expositions National Air Transportation Association National Business Travel Association Regional Airline Association Society of Incentive Travel Executives Travel and Tourism Research Association
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