Is there a lack of skills training for the travel industry?

I’ve worked in the travel industry for over 30 years, starting my career as a travel consultant, and holding a number of senior positions as my career developed. I’ve been responsible for the training and development of thousands of people in multiple branch travel agencies in the UK and overseas. I’ve also led a number of travel sales teams to great success both as head of sales and later as a consultant working with travel businesses to grow their profit and conversion through recruitment, people development and sales skills. It’s fair to say I’ve a huge passion for training and the travel industry.

It saddens me when talking to employees who are looking to leave their current workplace because they don’t feel like they’re being developed either to do the role, achieve and succeed in their position, or to progress within the business.

It’s apparent from LinkedIn Insights and my discussions, that formal training and in-house trainers are a luxury many travel businesses cannot afford, and while there are plenty of online training available covering destination, product and GDS skills, travel industry employees are frustrated about the limited soft skills available, including, but not limited to, sales, customer services, stress management, team management, negotiation, contracting, account management and career development training, specifically designed for those new to travel or those looking to develop their skills and knowledge. 

It’s all well and good knowing about the canals in Venice or the new cruise line that’s launching, but how valuable is product and destination training without soft skills? How applicable is it to the sales manager or team manager who has worked in travel for years and never received people management training or the product executive who’s looking to progress into a product manager role?

Quite rightly, travel industry employees say, ‘how do we achieve and avoid stressful situations like being unable to manage a complaint, exceed sales targets, build a new team, negotiate best rates, etc. if we’ve not received travel industry specific training’?

In a recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll, a lack of career growth was listed as one of the main reasons workers leave their jobs. It went on to say that 77% of employees feel they’re ‘on their own’ in developing their career at the company, and a third of employees left their jobs because they didn’t learn new skills to enhance their performance. 

The numbers are staggering; I’m sure some employers are aware of this, yet investment in their people may not be a priority.

I understand an employer’s hesitation to invest in training, when the average cost to attend a one-day course is £/$500 per person.  Unfortunately, this isn’t their only perceived negative.

Perceived negatives

  • Cost
  • Time away from the office
  • The employee may leave the business after training
  • Impact on current projects/deadlines/targets

All the above are used as reasons for not investing in an individual’s development, when employers should be thinking instead of the benefits.

Richard Branson famously said, ‘Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to’.

Employers should take this on board and think of the benefits of training their people.


  • Employee satisfaction and morale = retention and lower employee turnover
  • Creation of a talent bank for future roles = saves recruitment and training costs
  • Increased productivity and achievement = more motivated to achieve and trained to succeed
  • Ability to keep up or surpass competition = ideas, strategies, and new ways of doing things are learnt from training, improving company performance

I know for some, I’m preaching to the converted. There are many business leaders in travel who know the value of training, but are unable to afford the time and money for their employees to attend courses.

This is why I founded Progressive Travel Training, an online, e-learning library of bitesize soft skill training courses, written by travel industry experts.

Did you know?

  • E-learning requires 40-60% less time than classroom learning
  • E-learning has 25-60% higher retention rate (what you remember after the training) than face-to-face courses

Our lessons are amazing value; indeed, our stress management course (who doesn’t need stress management training?) is FREE. In general, our courses cost 90% less than a one-day training course. We want to make learning affordable to individuals and employers.

Our courses are designed for leisure and business travel professionals, and can be accessed anytime and anywhere, on mobile, tablet or desktop.

Some quick at-a-glance benefits of our e-learning:

  • Available globally for leisure and business travel professionals
  • Written by credible travel industry experts who know what they’re talking about
  • Our courses are jam-packed with great skills to help you improve and flourish in your job
  • Responsive, interactive, and captivating lessons
  • Allows you to learn at your own pace; you can dip in and out of the lessons, whenever you choose
  • Available forever. Once you’ve started or completed one of our lessons, they’re available for life
  • Learn on a tablet, mobile or desktop
  • At the end of a course, you’ll complete a test and receive a certificate detailing the skills and knowledge gained

As passionate business partners of the travel industry, we’ll continue to design in-demand, value for money, e-learning courses.

Welcome to our global learning network.

We’re passionate about empowering the travel industry community. If you feel the same, share this blog to your social media.

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