In an industry that spans the globe and changes constantly, group travel planners have difficult jobs. Staying on top of industry trends, dealing with shifting norms and making itineraries exciting for groups is enough to keep any planner busy.
The good news is there’s an ever-expanding library of online educational resources designed for those in the travel industry. To stay in the know and boost their businesses, group travel planners should look for on-demand educational resources on these easy-to-access platforms.
Designed to give tour operators and travel professionals a sense of community and belonging, Tourpreneur is a travel community and online platform started in 2019. Its long list of educational resources helps its participants work smarter, not harder.
“Tourpreneur is a whole ecosystem of DMC partners, travel agents, content creators, influencers, guides and tour managers,” said Mitch Bach, partner at Tourpreneur. “Anybody and everybody who wants to be connected to that process of creating and delivering experiences.”
With a blog, newsletter, Facebook community, software and business directories and a podcast, Tourprenuer’s free resources are extensive. The Tourpreneur Tour Business Podcast features a new conversation every week with a different industry leader, tour operator, authors and other insightful figures. Topics range from crafting travel experiences to the nuts and bolts of a tour business. One recent episode explored using neuroscience to better design tours.
In addition to the free resources, there are paid tiers which give access to more in-depth knowledge. For a small monthly fee, the Core Membership offers access to an even more extensive library of resources, such as a video and document library. The Tourpreneur Plus membership, the most immersive and personalized package, gives tour operators access to business coaching, including weekly meetings with the Tourpreneur team and guest coaches.
“We created paid options in order to value our time because demand was so high,” Bach said. “But you can spend your life with just our free resources and Facebook community and podcasts and get so much value for it.”
Bach is also the co-founder and CEO of TripSchool, a training organization which offers additional courses, certifications and resources for group travel planners.
Founded in 2017, Arival is a research and events company for the tours, activities and attractions industry. Though Arival’s primary audience is local tour operators, many travel professional can benefit from their wide range of online educational resources.
“What we’re finding is that a lot of travel professionals, whether they’re doing it on their own or through a third party, are working with these types of operators and trying to identify the best things to do in destinations,” said Stephen Joyce, vice president of content at Arival. “They should absolutely work with these operators and can use these resources.”
Arival offers research products, in-depth research reports on specific components of the travel industry, as well as consumer surveys and reports on an annual basis. These give insights into important industry trends. Guides provide practical instructions surrounding specific subjects. The “Booking System Guide,” for example, walks operators through all the steps from project planning to choosing vendors.
Arival has webinars addressing topics such as “Google Things to Do” and best practices for SEO. New webinars typically run each month, and there’s also an extensive library of past webinars. An upcoming e-learning toolkit called “Get Connected” is designed to help tour operators connect and distribute their products and is slated to be released this month.
While some guides, reports and webinar tools are available with the Insider Free membership, an Insider Pro membership gives users access to the library of all past webinars, all reports and even additional roundtable strategy sessions.
Guest Focus, which was once called Be A Better Guide, is a coaching platform founded in 2015 to help startup and medium-sized tour operators and travel professionals grow their businesses. It does this by promoting a simple idea: Keep the guest at the center of everything you do. Guest Focus, in addition to offering coaching, accountability calls, virtual bootcamps and video training, has a number of free resources anyone can take advantage of.
Guest Focus has two free workbooks available for download on its website. Since many tour operators lack sales and marketing training, they may struggle to put their tours into words, but the workbook “Irresistible Tour Descriptions” helps them sell their tours by teaching them to craft appealing summaries. Some tour operators lack a specialized education in business, but Guest Focus’ “Definitive Guide to Growing Your Business” workbook gives them a step-by-step plan to grow their tour business while always keeping the guest in mind.
Another free resource for tour operators from Guest Focus is its extensive collection of YouTube videos. Videos on topics ranging from how artificial intelligence can help tour operators to optimizing conversion rates are available online. A final resource that is offered to tour operators and travel professionals is a free, 45-minute strategy call to discuss their business with an experienced coach. It’s a good way for a growing tour business to get a second set of eyes on their business and some new ideas flowing.
Something all these resources have in common? They’re all highly actionable.
“Our Guest Focus resources are super practical,” said founder Kelsey Tonner. “We never create anything, whether it’s a video, workbook, session or a program that at the end of it you don’t have clear next steps of how you’re going to apply this in your tour business. That practical, actionable advice is the biggest priority.”
American Society of Travel Advisors
The American Society of Travel Advisors, or ASTA, is an association of and advocacy organization for travel professionals. Its origins can be traced back to 1931, making it one of the oldest travel organizations. It promotes professionalism and selling travel and has no shortage of online resources for travel professionals to further their businesses and careers.
ASTA offers a series of trainings and certifications for travel professionals. They can purchase and complete a wide range of online courses. These cover topics related to professional development, such as public speaking, media relations and customer service, as well as industry-specific training, like working with hotels and sales tactics for destination weddings. Some of these courses are available at no cost, while the rest are $200 or less with member pricing. These can give a travel professional additional credibility, as well as extra insight on running their business.
ASTA also offers a series of webinars for travel professionals. Members have access to a video library of past webinars, where they can quickly learn about relevant, trending industry topics. These often feature experts from various parts of the travel industry. Their video library has additional interviews with travel professionals, perspectives on tourism trends and other relevant topics to tour operators, travel agents and more.
Additional resources available to members include directories of ASTA members and travel professionals arranged by industry and specialty; a career center that tracks jobs and gives tips on resume writing; and additional travel tips.
Resources from Us
The Group Travel Leader offers several free educational resources for travel planners in multiple formats, whether they’d prefer to listen to a podcast on the go or get materials sent straight to their inbox.
Gather and Go Podcast
The Group Travel Leader’s podcast Gather and Go is designed to help travel planners improve their trips and boost their sales. In these twice-monthly podcast episodes, The Group Travel Leader’s executive editor, Brian Jewell, sits down with industry experts for engaging discussions on planning and leading better trips. Travel news, tips and hot takes on relevant travel issues are also explored in each episode. Listen to Gather and Go on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify. Learn more at grouptravelleader.com/podcast.
The Group Travel Leader’s e-books are in-depth guides about the nuts and bolts of the group travel industry, making them an essential resource for every group travel planner. For a comprehensive guide on the ins and outs of travel planning, “Group Travel Toolbox” gives planners ideas, tips and tricks in a quick and easy-to-read format. It touches on subjects such as picking the right hotels, must-have apps for travelers and travel tools business owners should take advantage of. “The Buyer’s Guide” delves into the travel industry, with an in-depth look at travel trends, up-and-coming destinations, and the challenges and opportunities in the industry. These e-books are free and updated yearly, making them an invaluable resource to group travel planners. They can download these resources at grouptravelleader.com/toolbox and grouptravelleader.com/buyersguide.
Planners can think of The Group Travel Leader’s e-newsletters as highlight reels of its publications, delivered directly to their inboxes. The Group Travel Minute highlights destination articles, relevant news and important updates in the industry and at the Group Travel Leader; it’s perfect for planners pressed for time. For bank and alumni group travel planners, Select Traveler has an accompanying newsletter, Select Traveler Minute. Faith-based group travel planners can catch up on all they need to know from Going on Faith with Faith Travel Minute. They can subscribe to these emails at grouptravelleader.com/subscribe.