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Since the Family Travel Association (FTA) opened its doors to travel agents in 2017, the FTA has sought to connect professional advisors dedicated to the specialty of family travel, with the wide array of executives and organizations who can help them succeed—suppliers, destinations and other industry members.

We’ve also worked hard to provide the knowledge, training and tools critical to agents serving this market segment.

Over the last 18 months, the FTA has been building resources and programs under what the organization calls the FTA Agent Initiative. Seeking to expand agents’ expertise, strengthen the relationships between agents, consumers, and the travel industry, and amplify the perspective of all our agent members by providing a platform for networking and professional development, the Agent Initiative has gained speed since the spring.

At the center of the FTA Agent Initiative are all our efforts to educate agents. Earlier this year, we launched the FTA Academy, the industry’s first training and certification program. This 23-module, video-based training program helps agents gain the professional knowledge needed to serve the needs and unique challenges of traveling families.

The FTA Academy was created by noted family travel expert, Sally Black, owner of Vacationkids.com, a Kunkletown, Pennsylvania-based travel agency. Black, who serves as director of Travel Agent Initiatives at the FTA, has been a travel agent for 20 years, including extensive agent training experience.

After agents have completed the informative and entertaining training videos, they must pass a 50-question comprehensive online test to receive their certification. Agents who pass the test receive a certification “badge” they can display on their website, e-mail signatures, business cards and marketing materials, demonstrating to their clients, suppliers and travel agent peers, their dedication, knowledge, expertise and commitment to excellence when creating family vacation experiences.

“New agents, or agents new to the lucrative family market, will gain a better appreciation of the challenges of planning memorable travel experiences for families,” says Black. “This training addresses the skills to overcome these unique challenges. In addition, seasoned agents can use this program to onboard new talent and grow their agencies more efficiently.”

Agents already Certified by The Travel Institute will earn three Continuing Education Units (CEUs) once they become an FTA Member and successfully complete the FTA Academy.

A second important pillar of the FTA’s agent program is providing new insights into the ever-evolving family market. For four consecutive years, the FTA has worked with the NYU School of Professional Studies, Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, to delve deep into family travel habits through the industry’s leading consumer survey. This research helps agents sharpen their business plans and target family travel sales more effectively.

Following the release of our 2018 study, the FTA will be launching a series of Agent Initiative programs that will provide tools that can help advisors use this research to better market to and sell to families. These tools will be available through the FTA Resource Center.

In addition, the FTA will be conducting a series of Facebook live sessions to present the 2018 survey data and provide deeper insights.

Agents can stay on top of all of these developments through the FTA’s website, as well as following the organization on Facebook and through the FTA’s @FTAdiscoveries Instagram handle and on Twitter @FamilyTravAssoc.

You can also access the FTA program at edu.recommend.com.

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