Northstar's Studio 90 takes travel education to the next level: Travel Weekly

It’s no surprise that techniques to educate evolve over the years. We learn more about how people retain information. Technology gets better and enables better learning solutions that appeal to a wider variety of learners.

Travel agent education is no different.

What were once slideshow-like courses where advisors would click from one page to the next, fed information they could easily look up for themselves online, have morphed into interactive training that gives advisors more of a sense of place or product.

That’s the goal at Studio 90, which creates custom education portals for clients across the travel industry ranging from suppliers to destinations. Studio 90 is owned by Northstar Travel Group, Travel Weekly’s parent company. Sister company TravelPulse’s Travel Agent Academy also falls under the Studio 90 umbrella.

“We’re very mindful that travel advisors are extremely busy people and there’s a lot of these courses out there,” said Sara Chapman, Studio 90’s senior director of client programs. “There are a lot of suppliers and destinations all vying for their attention. We try to encourage our clients to keep these tools short and to the point, and most importantly not just brochures online.”

The brochure-like training was common for years, Chapman said. A property, for instance, might list its number of rooms, suites and meetings space.

“Those are things that you can look up on a website or on a PDF,” she said.

Instead, Studio 90 aims to create content that “pushes the intangibles,” according to Chapman.

For example, “What is the experience that my client’s going to get? What is different about this property than all the other properties in the area vying for their attention? What kind of client of mine is this product right for, and what client may not be suitable for this?

“I think the best courses help the travel advisors be better salespeople and grow their own business, not just, ‘Here’s why your guest should come to our hotel,'” she said.

The interactive coursework seems to be working, with an 80% average completion rate.

“We really try to use best practices in education to build it all out,” Chapman said.

With an end goal of creating platforms that are easier to use for both agents and suppliers (“I’m a big believer that if a travel advisor has to email you to use your site, it’s too complicated,” Chapman said.), Studio 90 has recently rolled out some enhancements to its offerings.

For instance, a client recently wanted to integrate a virtual event portal into their travel agent portal. Studio 90 built in that functionality, so the destination can now see analytics on which advisors completed its courses and which attended virtual events.

Travel Agent Academy now features redesigned rewards pages, with a more robust dashboard and features like bonus reward points during certain time periods. 

And suppliers and destinations now have access to a dashboard with enrollment metrics 24/7.

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