The Present and Future of Learning in the Travel Industry

The Present and Future of Learning in the Travel Industry

The travel industry has experienced one of the biggest impacts over the past 3 months. In an industry where customers invest a lot of their hard-earned money in once in a lifetime experiences, when something catastrophic happens at this scale, the ability of those businesses to switch operational focus to dealing with concerned customers is no mean feat.

So that I could learn more about how some companies in this industry are dealing with these types of transitions, this weeks ‘5 Questions with…’ is with StoryShare friend Sean Cooper.

Sean and I started out talking about the topic at hand but as we’re so passionate about the more fundamental aspects of a learning strategy, this one went all over the place as we put the world to rights.  

1. How have you guys been handling the last couple of months?

“Obviously it’s been all hands to the pump. We’ve had to support the re-purposing and up-skilling of our people to focus on customer service during these strange times. Everyone has pulled together to make this happen”

People work so hard to have that break they deserve, it’s so important to be able to deal with those sensitivities, to understand how customers are feeling and being able to have those difficult conversations.

“Preparation is the key, being prepared, way in advance and ahead of the curve means that you don't have to be as reactive.”


2. What’s the one thing you would focus on right now if that’s all you could do?

“The tourism market is going to be tough, so maintaining loyalty and service with customers through the good times and the bad would be number one.” 

In today’s world of self-service and automation, recent events have really shown us that maintaining a great customer experience throughout their end-to-end journey is so important. The human’s that support this process make such a difference, helping customers feel valued and providing empathy - we’re all only human. 

“Excellent customer service in times of need creates loyalty”.
Customer Service with bg 1

3. What are the main attributes of your team that have given you the ability to execute?

“Well first of all the entire team have embraced a digital-first culture. As a learning team, we’ve looked at what we have in place and what everyone is best at, which has given us the ability to create the required resources at speed”.

Have you considered less traditional learning technology? It might not give you the bells and whistles but can do a very effective job when it comes to the basics. Remember, no-one loves a learning system as much as you.

Digital resources are such an effective way of preparing users for practical sessions. The focus can then be more about the execution of skills and putting what’s already been learned into practice.

4. I know you’re all about the learning service, but why is this so important?

“For me, it’s all about the value you can add to the business through learning. All businesses are different and unless you’re providing the right solutions to both problems and opportunities, your customers (the business) are not going to see those results”.

The craft and skill of a learning department is having the ability to act as a value-add business partner. Understanding the needs and objectives of the business and providing blended learning solutions with a measurable impact (e.g. increased NPS scores). With the rise of more self-service learning tools, are learning departments becoming more of a brokering service between volumes of content supply to meet the business a perceived business demand? Is less, more?

5. So what’s next on the learning strategy agenda for you?

“Now that all the pieces of the next-gen puzzle are almost in place, it’s going to be more of a data science exercise to continually prove business value.”

Gathering metrics and behavioural information through connected systems is the only way to determine what has worked and what has not. Again, I’ll draw parallels to the marketing world - did a particular campaign make people buy more stuff, marketers don’t stop at the metric of who consumed their ads, they want to know what the call to action (CTA) was.

So, to conclude in 3 key points:

Generic content without the business context (the so-what) can provide a lot of choices, if that’s what you users want, however, is it always clear on how the learner needs to apply that learning? The application of knowledge in context is where the business will really see the value.

The creation of a learning service rather than being a broker of learning content supply is a tough one. A service requires more investment and time, however, the results are more likely to be better. Providing more off-the-shelf content provides users with choice, especially in self-directed learning, but do you get the business results you’re looking for? 

Look at what you already have first before you look outside for something new. It’s possible that something without a ‘learning’ label will be able to fulfil a lot of your requirements already, especially when you think about what you’re trying to achieve.

What are your thoughts? Share your perspective and experiences in the comments.