Spending time at home during the coronavirus lockdown can offer an opportunity for agents to learn a new skill or brush up on marketing techniques. Here we highlight handy online resources for self-improvement
As social spaces are now closed and quarantine is being enforced by the government due to the coronavirus, now might be the time for travel professionals to take advantage of a host of virtual resources to boost learning and personal development while working from home.
“There can be no denying that we are all living in difficult times right now,” says Gareth Mason, long haul product manager at escorted tour operator Newmarket Holidays.
“The global coronavirus pandemic is affecting all of our lives, as well as the travel industry. However these quiet times can be used productively.”
From virtual museum tours that can help agents brush up on destination knowledge to online fitness classes to help them maintain a healthy body and mind, we’ve collated a number of ways to boost learning during the lockdown.
Google Arts and Culture has teamed up with more than 2,500 museums and art galleries from around the globe to provide virtual museum tours that can be taken from the comfort of a sofa. The tours are a great way for agents to learn about cultural venues to recommend to clients while also boosting their own knowledge of science, history and art.
Highlights include a tour of the British Museum in London or far-flung culture hubs such as the Guggenheim in New York City.
Have you ever been on a fam trip or holiday and wished you could speak a bit more of the local language? The BBC Languages website has courses in a range of languages, from French and German to Arabic and Russian. Resources include audio and video tools, dictionaries, tips on pronunciation, grammar, activities and language tests. There are even documentaries or TV drama series available online in certain languages to help viewers practise their newfound skills.
If you’ve ever wished you had the skills to give your travel agency website a refresh, now’s a great time to learn some basic coding skills. Codecademy offers some of its basic and beginner courses for free if you register with your email address on its website. An introduction to HTML and CSS shows you how to make basic changes to websites, or you can go a step further and get to grips with programming languages such as Ruby or Java, which are used for apps and software development. All the courses can be completed in the browser window so there’s no need to download any additional programmes.
Agents can join in on the home schooling concept by taking an online university course. Open Culture is a website with links to free online courses from the world’s top universities. The library features more than 1,500 online courses in a wide range of subjects from universities including Yale, Harvard and Oxford. There are links to history, philosophy and literature courses, in addition to science, psychology, and computer science modules. There’s also an entire section dedicated to communications courses, which could be useful for developing professional skills such as public speaking at travel events.
Although gyms are now closed for the foreseeable future, there’s no reason to let exercise routines fall by the wayside while at home. Fitness Blender is offering several free online workout and wellness videos, featuring everything from HIT classes to breathing exercises to help combat stress. There’s also a handy search tool to filter results by workout duration, difficulty level, area of focus or how many calories you want to burn.
Now is a great time for agents to expand their marketing knowledge, with a host of useful online resources readily available.
Emma Donovan, marketing manager for Luxury Brands at ITC Travel Group, recommends a number of inspiring digital marketing resources to brush up on your marketing knowledge from home. She recommends podcasts SEO SAS, BoostSauce and Search News you can Use, which all provide information about improving digital marketing.
Useful online blogs she recommends include Search Engine Journal, MOZ and SEMRush, while SEO consultant Aleyda Solis does an excellent newsletter.
There are also plenty of free videos agents can watch to improve their marketing know-how. Donovan says: “On YouTube search for [online marketers] Brian Dean or Neil Patel for relevant content, and [software developer] MOZ also does whiteboard Fridays which are good succinct videos on one subject.”
With everyone working from home and industry events postponed for the foreseeable future, some people might be feeling cut off from colleagues. Madeleine Bromige, product manager at InsideJapan Tours, suggests downloading video chat apps to catch up with valued contacts or even make new ones. “The whole of the travel industry will be in a state of pause at the moment, so why not drop the agent teams or travel consultants at tour operators a line?
“They are probably working from home right now and would love to see new faces or meet new people and [will be] only too happy to help with questions or give guidance.”
Agents can use their free time wisely by familiarising themselves with product from suppliers, says Newmarket Holidays’ Gareth Mason.
“Agents can get to grips with brochures – both online and physical – along with operators’ own training sites and central body websites such as Tipto or Bright.
“Training sites have handy and useful insights all clarified in one place, together with operator information such as awards and memberships, top-selling holidays and reasons to book. Agents can also test their newfound knowledge with short, fun quizzes and even get themselves entered into prize draws.
“By familiarising themselves with tourist board websites, travel agents can gain additional knowledge about specific destinations and can offer their customers valuable insight into local culture, food, language, and even suggest days out.
“By spending their time wisely, when the crisis does ease and the industry begins to recover, agents can get themselves ahead of the game, ensuring that they come back stronger.”