BROUGHT TO YOU BY
TITLE: Manager, Alliance Sales Strategy/ Sales Effectiveness
YEARS IN TRAVEL: 33
So, what exactly do you do?
I manage multiple areas of responsibility, including sales strategic relationships with our joint venture partners; negotiate new sales relationships with potential alliance partners; help increase efficiencies and performance within Global Sales and externally with our partners; lead a crack of customer sales and service specialists who trouble-shoot and addresses customer service issues for our managed travel agency partners; and, inside sales management, where we rely on an online platform AC Liaison to manage our inside sales travel agencies.
You’ve been called the “godfather” of Air Canada’s Global Sales University (GSU). What exactly does that mean?
Yikes! Really? In 2014 our VP of Global Sales, Duncan Bureau, recognized the need for internal and external education of AC’s products and services and asked me to build a training program that would reach a wide audience in an effective and engaging manner. With that, I developed the concept for Air Canada Global Sales University. This education program reaches our sales staff around the globe, travel agency partners and students in colleges enrolled in travel and programs.
Tell us about the GSU.
It’s an e-learning management system that provides users with in-depth knowledge about Air Canada’s wide range of products and services:
- The GSU curriculum is based on six core courses with 16 modules, to be completed within one calendar year.
- Courses are: Air Canada Leisure Group; Premium Products & Priority Services; Network & Connectivity; Fleet & Cabin Comfort; Business Solutions; and Air Canada Orientation.
- Each interactive module takes no longer than 30 minutes, followed by a 20-minute quiz.
- Once all modules have been completed (and an 80 per cent or higher score is achieved), participants qualify to complete the Air Canada Expert (“ACE”) Certification exam, consisting of three case studies. Upon completion (with a score of 80 per cent or higher), participants receive their “ACE” status.
- 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).
Once participants achieve their ACE status they receive an official certificate and marketing kit to add their designation to business cards/stationary. The ACE designation also makes travel advisors eligible for any FAM trips and contests.
How can it help agents sell Air Canada?
We have a simple maxim: “Know More, Sell More.” 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. To date, 3,200 travel counsellors in Canada are actively enrolled in the GSU and of all our ACEs, 93 per cent of those surveyed advised that their knowledge of Air Canada products and services increased by undertaking the GSU training.
Are there any side benefits that agents might derive from it?
Current ACEs also gain access to new content and courses, which go beyond product and services. In addition to travel industry reference information, we are expanding content that is focused on professional development. Information and tutorials for social and professional selling, for example, will augment our product content. Our desire is for all these pieces to be part of a toolkit for advisors, which helps them gain a competitive advantage.
How does one join?
ACTA members can register at acta.travellearningcampus.ca; non-association members can enrol at learninglibrary.com/aircanada.
Does Air Canada have any other programs that agents might take advantage of?
We are aiming to launch our first-in-class course for travel partners this year: Airline Economics (ECO). Deepening the understanding of Air Canada’s products and services also requires developing an understanding of the economics that drive the rapidly changing and evolving airline industry. Our “Airline ECO” course reviews the principles of airline economics including frequently used terms, common calculations, and industry acronyms and their application. Additionally, the course offers insights into how deregulation influences airline profitability and operations. We hope to have our first sessions this fall, with a more robust schedule in 2019.
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WHY DID AIR CANADA DECIDE TO PROFILE ROB?
Rob’s creativity and dedication to Air Canada’s valuable partners – the travel agents that sell their product and service every day – manifested in the Global Sales University, an online educational program that arms travel agents with the necessary information to perform at their highest potential. The results generated for travel agents across the country are staggering and Air Canada thanks you – and Rob – for making this program such a collaborative success.
– Air Canada