Travel Agent Specialist Programs: Secrets to Success

September 15, 2014

This year, DCI polled America’s top travel agents to determine the effectiveness of destination education programs, fondly referred to as “travel agent specialist programs”. The survey results uncovered best practices for engaging travel trade to become destination ambassadors and sellers.

You can now click through our webinar deck to learn the outcomes of this research and discover “How to run a successful Travel Agent Specialist Program.”

If you’re curious which three destinations travel agents consider to have the most effective training programs, you can click-through the slideshow below:


Top Travel Agent Specialist Programs:


The Hawaii Specialist program was cited as the most innovative and appealing program.  What makes the program stand out more than anything is the quality of content available both during and after the training modules.  Particularly valuable is the mix of most visited attractions, but also the hidden gems that Hawaii has to offer.  As one travel agent reported, this provides “valuable information about things I could not get by simply reading about the destination.”

There is an important lesson here.  While it is sometimes thought that travel agents are primarily motivated by booking incentives and FAMs, our survey made it clear that the actual content provides the highest value in specialist programs.

Many respondents noted that programs could be improved simply by addressing this point: creating more relevant content that is fun to complete and provides good coverage of the destination.


Jamaica “One Love” placed a close second in our survey.  Many of the respondents were impressed with the continued contact from the tourism board after their certification via a news section on the site, newsletters and other communications.

Travel agent graduates also highlighted the length of the program, reporting that it “is both short enough, and informative enough in helping with sales to the destination.”

This is one of the important characteristics of top program picks: they are both short enough to fit into the busy schedule of travel professionals, but detailed enough to provide important sales and destination insight.

With five one-hour modules, Jamaica’s “One Love” program hits the sweet spot.



With over 1,500 active graduates, Tourism Australia’s specialist program is one of the most popular.  The program was lauded for a variety of reasons, but scored particularly high points for the support provided upon program completion.  Agents were surprised by the speedy turnaround on email requests from the tourism board.

In addition, agents were impressed with the resources provided to specialists, including an image gallery, video and newsletter templates and other marketing tools.

Tourism Australia has done a great job not just in capturing new travel agents, but also to ensure that existing graduates remain active.

The availability of resources and continued communication from the tourism board are among the top factors in sustained interest.


Naureen Kazi

Written by Naureen Kazi

A true citizen of the world, DCI Tourism Managing Director Naureen Kazi is originally Pakistani, was raised in Mexico City, has worked in Japan and travels on her American passport. She is fluent in five languages and cultures (perfecting number six), which allows her to design and implement public relations programs and travel trade marketing campaigns with global implications.

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