They say, “knowledge is power,” and it’s a concept that Air Canada is trying to leverage with its Global Sales University (GSU). A program designed to educate travel advisors about the airline, its network and its destinations, the idea is “learn more, earn more,” according to Rob Puzzo, Air Canada’s manager, alliances sales strategy and sales effectiveness. “We believe that the further we can enhance our partners’ knowledge of our product, the more successful they will be.” But what exactly is the GSU and how does it work? Puzzo gave CT Magazine an in-depth overview.
To summarize, what is Air Canada’s Global Sales University?
The Air Canada Global Sales University is an online learning management system that provides our Global Sales team and our travel partners with in-depth knowledge about Air Canada’s wide range of products and services. The objective of the Global Sales University is to equip our travel partners with the tools they need to enhance their Air Canada product knowledge and become brand ambassadors, focused on selling the value of Air Canada’s impressive suite of products.
Give us a basic rundown of how it works.
- The foundation of the GSU curriculum is based on the core six courses, which contain 16 modules.
- Courses are: Air Canada Leisure Group; Premium Products & Priority Services; Network & Connectivity; Fleet & Cabin Comfort; Business Solutions; and Air Canada Orientation.
- Each module has been designed to be no longer than 30 minutes in duration, followed by a 20-minute quiz (though data shows most participants are completing modules and the quizzes in half of the allotted time).
- Once all modules have been completed (and an 80 per cent or higher score is achieved), participants receive a ‘Captain’s Badge,’ which will qualify them to complete the Certification exam.
- The Certification exam consists of three case studies, which cover the content in the courses. The case studies have a time allotment of 90 minutes. Once all three certification exams are complete (once again, with a score of 80 per cent of higher), participants receive their ‘ACE status.’
- Partners are asked to complete the initial core curriculum and achieve their certification within one calendar year.
- A re-certification program runs parallel to the core initial one. This is referred to as “Express Re-Certification” and consists of three modules (What’s New 1, What’s New 2 and New Destinations).
What do travel advisors receive upon completion of the program?
Once participants achieve their ‘ACE status,’ they will receive: an official Global Sales University Certificate; a marketing kit to add their designation to business cards/stationary; a recognition lapel pin; and for those agencies where 80 per cent of the staff certify on the GSU, an ACE Certified Expert Agency designation and a decal for display in the agency/on storefront windows is provide to the agency owner. The ACE designation also makes travel advisors eligible for FAM trip contests. As an example, travel advisors who completed the program with certification by Jan. 31, 2017 were eligible to win one of 30 trips to three new AC destinations (air and land costs fully covered). We also have run incentive contests giving away Apple iPads.
What do travel advisors have to gain by participating?
It is a challenge for travel advisors to be on top of each carrier, cruise line, hotel and car rental chains. However, if we can provide them with an engaging way to learn about Air Canada’s products – ranging from our premium and leisure offerings to our business solutions – we set them up for success, which will result in an increased revenue opportunity for them. It is an increasingly complex industry and if we can provide this as a tool in their kit, we are confident that they will be in a better position to provide the customer with appropriate buying guidance. Referring to our maxim of “Learn More – Earn More”, we have received feedback from our partners that the program has indeed been helpful in helping them achieve this end.
What will travel advisors learn by taking part in the program?
The curriculum will have counsellors cover everything from a-z: Airport procedures to Zonal boarding. Specifically:
1. Air Canada Premium Products:
This is one of the most extensive courses and is the only module in Air Canada Premium Products. The scope of the modules delves into the premium products and priority services which are offered, focusing on the customer benefits, such as how quickly and efficiently customers can transition through airports and improve the travel experience with service that offers the ultimate in comfort and convenience. Areas covered include:
Cabin classes of service (Business, Premium Economy, Economy), seats, dining, aircraft cabin configuration and fleet assignment by service (e.g., Domestic, North America, Transcontinental, etc.), Business Class Flight Passes, Maple Leaf Lounges, Concierge Service and Priority Customer Services (e.g., priority check-in, boarding, security, baggage and valet service), Altitude loyalty program.
2. Air Canada Leisure Group:
This course provides the participant with insight into Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Vacations. Rouge, Air Canada's leisure airline, is the first module and it covers the Rouge network and focuses on the 60 leisure destinations and the 82 routes in Europe, Mexico, the U.S., the Caribbean, Asia, South America, Africa and Canada. Cabin comfort and features are also explored. The Air Canada Vacations (ACV) module takes the partner through ACV’s product offerings, including vacation packages to destinations across Mexico and the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, Asia, the South Pacific and Canada.
3. Network, Fleet & Cabin Comfort:
The Network and connectivity course is another comprehensive course covering five modules:
- Air Canada Network: Provides an in-depth look at AC’s complete network of destinations from long-haul international destinations to commuter routes
- New Destinations: Introduces the participant to all new destinations launched in the current year.
- Airport Hubs and Connectivity: Reviews AC’s main hubs and walks the student through the connection process, featuring the ease of sixth freedom connections to the world from the USA through the Canadian hubs.
- Joint Ventures: Introduces the AC joint venture from North America to Europe, Middle East, Africa and India with its joint venture partners: Lufthansa Group: Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss) and United. Routes, partner airline products and services are covered.
- Star Alliance: Focuses on AC’s partnership with the Alliance and the products and services made available by the Star partner carriers.
Ultimately, why should travel advisors complete the learning program?
Current ACEs will gain access to these new courses, in addition, to reference information we will be adding, such as social and professional selling content. All of these pieces will formulate a tool kit for advisors from which they may avail themselves and provide them with a competitive advantage.