The Institute of Certified Travel Agents (ICTA) is now The Travel Institute
. The new corporate name and brand identity system are aligned with the non-profit organization’s expanded mission to establish clear proficiency standards, grant professional certifications and offer educational insight for all travel professionals. The new brand and company strategy were unveiled here today to attendees at the Institute’s 2003 National Forum.The travel industry has changed dramatically since the founding of the Institute in 1964, but the fundamental purpose of the organization has remained focused on raising professionalism and business effectiveness through education. Recent years have seen growth in consumer travel demand along with a profusion of new travel sales and distribution models in both the offline and online segments. In its unique industry role, The Travel Institute has an obligation to serve the learning needs of the increasingly diverse spectrum of travel professionals.
“The new corporate identity puts a progressive, fresh face on an integrated growth plan that is built on important and evolutionary changes,” said David Preece, CTC, president and CEO of The Travel Institute. Preece added, “The new name reflects a continuation of ICTA’s proud heritage while accommodating a broader position in a dynamic marketplace.”
The brand positioning and graphic design were created by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell. “This was not a change made for change’s sake,” stated Bradley Nix, YPB&R Executive Director of Corporate and Brand Identity. “It was a contemplative process that involved extensive research of industry trends, ICTA brand equity, and perceptions of a range of travel professionals, including ICTA members and trustees.”
The Travel Institute is evolving its industry role and extending its influence with a two-pronged growth strategy. The first element is to expand curriculum and programs for the retail segment to reinforce relevance to all travel sales models. The second initiative is to broaden its reach within the business-to-business side of the industry with customized learning solutions for entities such as suppliers, wholesalers, consortia, associations and destinations. This balanced approach facilitates professional growth that benefits all business segments and, ultimately, the traveling public.
The Travel Institute will continue to emphasize its core competencies like the Certified Travel Counselor (CTC) and Certified Travel Associate (CTA) designations. Indeed, many of the changes driven by the new strategy will provide additional value, benefits and status to these well-recognized certifications that indicate a high level of travel expertise and professionalism.
In addition, the Institute also announced the creation of a new certification, the Certified Travel Executive (CTE). This designation is comparable to the CTC in terms of rigor, experience requirements and hierarchical status, but the curriculum will be focused more on the skills and knowledge required for success as a senior industry executive such as trend analysis, planning, marketing, finance, leadership, and team-building. This new certification is designed to be equally relevant to professionals in B2C (retailer) segment as well as in the B2B (supplier) sector. More program details will be made available in early 2004.
Several other key strategies were presented at the National Forum. Some related to changes in existing programs, while others were announcements of new initiatives. All these changes will be developed and rolled out over the next few months.
Expansion of the popular Specialist Program, including new destination curricula and a line of lifestyle specialist designations for travel niches like adventure, golf, honeymoon/wedding, luxury, gay and lesbian, diving, disabilities/special needs, and spas/wellness.
Periodic re-certification for CTA, CTC, CTE and Specialist designations that is aimed at maintaining certification integrity. Re-certification every few years will not replicate the intensity and rigor of the candidate’s original certification, but will rather be a straightforward process that demonstrates current knowledge and proficiency in travel trends.
A new, Internet-based Skills Assessment program that offers an easy way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of every travel professional. The results serve as a foundation for the development of targeted training programs designed to increase performance, customer retention and job satisfaction.
Addition of high-value membership benefits offered to certified members, such as exclusive newsletters, enhanced teleconferences, and proprietary sections on the Institute’s Web site. A new affiliation category will be added that does not require certification as a CTA, CTC or CTE. This inclusive step extends the Institute’s ability to positively influence professionalism and expertise in both the B2C and B2B segments.
“We are confident that this new strategic direction properly positions The Travel Institute in our evolving industry while creating important new growth opportunities for all travel professionals,” stated Preece. “We are mindful of our stewardship over a unique industry legacy - it’s a wonderful foundation that allows for transformation of The Travel Institute from an education provider to a community of knowledge and insight that serves truly vested travel professionals.”