Hospitality and Tourism

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Travel Skill Standards

The goal of the Travel, Tourism and Transportation Skill Standards Project is to specify the knowledge, skills and abilities an individual needs to succeed as an entry-level Travel Consultant working in a travel agency, tour company, cruise company or as an airline reservationist or customer service agent. The performance criteria and technical knowledge identified through this project will support both the development of new curriculum and the strengthening of existing curriculum in schools and colleges that train students for a career in the travel industry.

The travel industry is currently undergoing sweeping changes as more people in the United States are traveling than ever before. Cruise lines are debuting new ships at a rapid pace, and cruising is becoming a viable vacation option for a larger portion of the population.

Tour companies are also experiencing continued demand and growth. The airline industry has made dramatic changes in the structure of its reservation and ticketing distribution system. An increasing consumer reliance on the internet as a booking tool as well as a lowering of the commission/pay structure previously paid to travel agents is causing many full-service travel agencies to rethink their marketing and product mix and to move their emphasis to the sale of tours, cruises and other travel products.

As a result, tour companies and cruise lines are expanding their hiring of well-trained reservations and sales people. Thus students entering the travel industry today must have a well-rounded and complete resume of skills and competencies in order to adapt and prosper as the industry continues to evolve.

This project represents a close partnership between education and the travel, tourism and transportation industries. Two focus groups were used to develop and define the skill standards (including the functions, tasks, and performance criteria) presented in this book. The first focus group was made up of representatives from all aspects of the travel industry (including an airline representative). The second focus group was made up solely of airline professionals.

The Skill Standards Steering Committee for this project includes professionals who have experience in reservations, sales and marketing in travel agencies, the airlines, and tour and cruise companies. In addition, the research findings were validated through a mail survey of over 1100 travel-related companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

Our survey response rate was over 20%. Continuous updating of the research obtained through this project will be a necessity for its continued usefulness.

About Skill Standards

The following skill standards charts and accompanying validation graphs represent the most important part of our work on skill standards. They contain all of the technical components identified by our focus groups and validated by our survey which are necessary for success as a travel consultant. Each chart contains the following five components:

Function or Job Duty Task
Functions represent the general areas of responsibility for the travel consultant.
The tasks are a listing of key activities performed by workers in a given occupation.
The focus group was asked, "What are the key activities needed to perform this function?
Performance Criteria.
Performance criteria relate to each task and measure how well the task was performed. They also represent a further definition of the task.
Technical Knowledge.
Technical skills, knowledge and abilities (including tools) are those areas of expertise which a travel consultant must have in order to perform a task well
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities.
Foundation skills are basic academic and employability skills that are needed to build more advanced competencies.
These skills and qualities are necessary for continued success in the modern workforce.

Following this section are a series of case studies and scenarios which reflect actual workplace experiences. They represent the broad range of job types that are available for a trained travel consultant. For each scenario we have noted the tasks and performance criteria that relate to that particular job. The scenarios will give you some examples of the varied tasks and abilities that you might encounter in the various workplaces in the travel industry.

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Skill Standards Grid: Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Developing itineraries

Key Activity

Performance Indicators
How do we know when the task is performed well?
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
Employability Skills
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities
Explore options with vendors
Client needs are met.
Options are thoroughly and consistently explored.
Options exploration is performed according to company policy.
Where applicable, individuals work effectively as a team.
Knowledge of and ability to utilize sources of vendor information.
Knowledge of the use of customer qualifiers.
Knowledge of company policies regarding vendor research.
Management of time
Self Management
Management of materials
Acquiring information
Listening
Interpreting information
Confirm reservations
  • All qualifiers, including PNR (passenger name record), are accurate.
  • All confirmations are completed in a timely manner.
  • Confirmations with customers and vendors are clear, concise, and effective.
  • The customer understands the sale and product purchased.
  • Ability to use CRS &/or current computer technology for airline related reservations and internal booking systems for tours/cruise reservations.
  • Knowledge of company/vendor PNR requirements.
  • Knowledge of travel industry symbols, acronyms, and abbreviations.
  • Knowledge of the appropriate information to communicate regarding reservation confirmation.
  • Knowledge of sales policies and procedures of the vendor.
  • Knowledge of travel products.
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Responsibility
  • Serving customers
  • Use of information technology
  • Decision making
Finalize arrangements with client
  • The customer understands vendor terms and conditions regarding travel arrangements.
  • Special needs of the customer are correctly identified and met.
  • Related products and services are offered to the customer appropriately and effectively.
  • Travel tips and hints are conveyed appropriately.
  • The finalizing process is properly documented according to company policy.
  • Confidentiality regarding customer travel maintained.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully and patiently.
  • Knowledge of sales policies and procedures of the vendor.
  • Knowledge of travel products & related products and services and knowledge of the local area &/or travel destination.
  • Knowledge of special needs accommodations and their availability.
  • Knowledge of non-discrimination laws and regulations.
  • Knowledge of the customer's needs, how to ask the appropriate questions and ability to recognize opportunities for cross-selling.
  • Knowledge of how to locate up-to-date travel bulletins and destination tips and hints.
  • Knowledge of company policy regarding documentation.
  • Serving customers
  • Speaking
  • Interpreting information
  • Working with diversity
Research destinations and travel options
  • Research is thorough, complete, and accurate.
  • The consultant qualifies the customer.
  • The customer's needs are met.
  • For international travel, proper documentation is researched.
  • Where applicable, individuals work effectively as a team.
  • Knowledge of how to qualify a customer.
  • Knowledge of the travel products and services sales cycle.
  • Ability to use travel resources to find the right fit for the customer, such as Travel Planners, Star Report, Cruise Lines, Hotels, Resorts, Tours, and vendor faxes.
  • Knowledge of where to obtain international travel document and immunization information including: CRS, embassy, and Travel Planners.
  • Reading
  • Participation
  • Acquiring information
  • Creative Thinking
  • Helping others learn
  • Exhibiting leadership

Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Processing reservations

KEY ACTIVITY

Performance Indicators
How do we know when the task is performed well?
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
Employability Skills
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities
Issue tickets and vouchers
  • All PNR standards are met according to company and vendor policies.
  • Tickets and vouchers are complete and accurate.
  • Tickets and vouchers are completed and issued in a timely manner.
  • Tickets and vouchers are delivered according to company policy.
  • Knowledge of ARC (Airline Reporting Corporation) procedures for documentation.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor polices regarding tickets and vouchers.
  • Ability to use the CRS system.
  • Knowledge of company policy regarding ticket and voucher delivery.
  • Selecting appropriate technology
  • Management of materials
  • Reasoning
  • Writing
  • Responsibility
  • Serving customers
Perform documentation
  • Vendor documentation is properly prepared and vendors are notified appropriately.
  • Customer travel files are kept current and maintained in an orderly fashion.
  • Finalizing process is properly documented according to company policy.
  • Where applicable, documentation of communications with the client is accurately kept regarding visas, passports, immunizations, declaration forms, and travel advisories.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor documentation procedures and how to locate them.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding customer travel files.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding documentation of the finalizing process.
  • Knowledge of documentation and ability to implement procedures regarding communication with the client.
  • Management of time
  • Participation
  • Responsibility
  • Knowledge the organizational system
Perform accounting procedures
  • Accounting procedures are followed according to company and/or vendor policies.
  • Accounting is completed accurately and in a timely manner.
  • The customer thoroughly understands payment procedures, amounts, and deadlines.
  • Accounting information is communicated to the customer effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Where applicable, individuals work effectively as a team.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor policies regarding accounting procedures.
  • Knowledge of and ability to use CRS system or current technology.
  • Mathematics
  • Management of money
  • Arithmetic
  • Reasoning
  • Negotiating
  • Responsibility
Review documents with client
  • Document information is communicated effectively and clearly to the customer.
  • The customer understands the terms and conditions.
  • The consultant obtains verbal and/or written confirmation from the customer of acceptance of terms and conditions in accordance with company policy.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully and patiently.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor policies regarding confirmation of customer acceptance.
  • Knowledge of terms and conditions of purchased product.
  • Speaking
  • Management of materials
  • Interpreting information
  • Reading
  • Serving customers
  • Exhibiting leadership
  • Working with diversity

Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Performing Sales Activities

KEY ACTIVITY

Performance Indicators
How do we know when the task is performed well?
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
Employability Skills
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities
Develop personal client list
  • Customer preferences are accurately and completely documented.
  • Client information is kept up to date.
  • Client's future needs are anticipated and met.
  • Prospecting and relationship-building activities are performed consistently and reliably.
  • Clients are invited to special events.
  • Knowledge of product opportunities and/or how to locate them.
  • Knowledge of on-going special events and how to locate information regarding those events.
  • Self management
  • Management of materials
  • Creative thinking
  • Serving customers
  • Organizing information
Close sales
  • Appropriate sales techniques are used in all areas of the sales cycle.
  • Buying signals are accurately recognized and post-sale techniques are effectively utilized.
  • The sale is asked for and closed effectively.
  • Information appropriate to the client is communicated clearly and effectively.
  • Sales procedures comply with company policy.
  • Sales quotas are met.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully and patiently.
  • Knowledge of the sales cycle and sales techniques regarding travel products and services.
  • Knowledge of the quota incentive plan.
  • Ability to ask for and close the sale.
  • Knowledge of product types.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding sales of products.
  • Integrity/honesty
  • Speaking
  • Serving customers
  • Listening
  • Responsibility
Attend industry functions
  • Industry functions are attended according to company policy.
  • Information gathered at industry functions is communicated to appropriate personnel effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding industry functions.
  • Knowledge of how to locate information regarding industry functions.
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Helping others learn
  • Knows/Learns
  • Management of materials
  • Participation
Answer incoming calls for sales and customer service
  • Company standards regarding volume of calls answered and processing time are met.
  • Customer needs are met.
  • Information is clearly and effectively communicated.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully, and patiently.
  • Ability to utilize telephone skills.
  • Knowledge of telephone system and computer system.
  • Knowledge of the company organization and key departments.
  • Knowledge of internal and external travel information resources and how to locate them.
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Responsibility
  • Problem Solving
  • Use of information/technology
  • Serving customers
  • Exhibiting leadership
  • Negotiating
  • Knowledge the organizational system

Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Performing research

KEY ACTIVITY

Performance Indicators
How do we know when the task is performed well?
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
Employability Skills
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities
Maintain and update personal resource materials
  • CRS (Central Reservation System) &/or current technology is accessed to obtain current travel information, including fares, advisories, tours, etc.
  • Web sites & news sources are accessed appropriately to maintain current information.
  • Personal files of brochures and resource materials are kept up to date and orderly.
  • Faxed information is accessed according to company policy.
  • Internal information sources are accessed consistently and reliably.
  • Information regarding customer travel plans, arrangements and preferences is kept confidential.
  • Knowledge of the location of travel information including, CRS, vendor faxes, Travel Planners, Star Report, brochures and FAA advisories.
  • Knowledge of the Internet and how to use it to obtain travel information.
  • Knowledge of the appropriate and complete content for personal resource files including current events.
  • Applying technology
  • Reasoning
  • Reading
  • Managing materials
  • Organizing information
Research destinations
  • Research is thorough, complete, and accurate.
  • The consultant qualifies the customer.
  • The customers needs are met.
  • Research is properly conducted so that the travel consultant is well versed in a variety of travel services.
  • Knowledge of the travel industry.
  • Knowledge of the psychology of the traveler and ability to address customer concerns.
  • Knowledge of qualifying techniques and questions.
  • Knowledge of the and ability to access sources of travel information.
  • Serving customers
  • Knows/Learns
  • Reading
  • Management of time
  • Creative thinking
  • Acquiring information
Participate in educational trips
  • All events are attended.
  • Accurate notes are taken.
  • Company/vendor standards are maintained according to company/vendor policies.
  • Information gathered is communicated to appropriate personnel effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor standards regarding educational trips.
  • Knowledge of the company communication procedures.
  • Helping others learn
  • Knows/Learn
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Exhibiting leadership
  • Visualization
Attend industry functions
  • Industry functions are attended according to company policy.
  • Information gathered at industry functions is communicated to appropriate personnel effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding attending industry functions.
  • Knowledge of information regarding industry functions.
  • Helping others learn
  • Management of materials
  • Listening
  • Interpreting information
  • Participation
  • Sociability

Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Performing customer service

KEY ACTIVITY

Performance Indicators 
How do we know when the task is performed well? 
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
Employability Skills
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities 

Identify and refer customer issues and challenges

  • Customer issues are recognized and acknowledged.
  • Appropriate customer service techniques are employed according to company policies and procedures.
  • Customer issues and challenges are referred to appropriate personnel effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Information regarding customer travel arrangements and plans is kept confidential.
  • Where applicable, individuals work effectively as a team.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully and patiently.
  • Information regarding travel industry, procedures is current and accessible.
  • Knowledge of company organization and functions of key departments.
  • Knowledge of traveler psychology.
  • Knowledge of customer service procedures.
  • Knowledge of the travel industry, travel products, procedures and options.
  • Knowledge of travel industry changes.
  • Speaking
  • Sociability
  • Serving customers
  • Working with diversity
  • Listening
  • Reasoning
  • Self-worth
Maintain customer contact
  • Customers are contacted as appropriate.
  • Ongoing follow up is performed regarding changes in schedule/travel plans.
  • Personal client list data is utilized when contacting customers.
  • Customer travel plans and arrangements are kept confidential.
  • Knowledge of the sales cycle regarding travel products and services.
  • Knowledge of customer needs and traveler psychology.
  • Sociability
  • Serving customers
  • Listening
  • Working with diversity
  • Organizing information

Occupation Cluster: Travel Consultant Critical Work Function: Performing airport check-in

KEY ACTIVITY

Performance Indicators
How do we know when the task is performed well?
Technical Knowledge
Skills, Abilities, Tools
SCANS Skills and Personal Qualities
Foundational Abilities
Perform security checks
  • FAA mandated security questions are asked correctly and consistently.
  • FAA mandated profiling standards are met.
  • FAA profiling standards are kept confidential.
  • Baggage security procedures are followed.
  • Firearms security procedures are followed.
  • Government issued photo I.D. is compared to ensure the name on the ticket is the same as on the I.D.
  • Procedures regarding unaccompanied minors are followed.
  • Knowledge of FAA mandated security questions and profiling standards.
  • Knowledge of baggage and firearms security procedures.
  • Knowledge of ticketing check-in procedures.
  • Knowledge of the impact world current events on security procedures.
  • Knowledge of procedures regarding unaccompanied minors.
  • Responsibility
  • Management of materials
  • Knows/Learns
  • Interpreting information
  • Decision making
  • Sociability
  • Participation
  • Working with diversity
Issue tickets and boarding passes
  • All PNR standards are met according to company and vendor policies.
  • Tickets, boarding passes, and vouchers are complete and accurate.
  • Tickets, boarding passes, and vouchers are completed and issued in a timely manner.
  • Flight number, boarding time, departure time, seat assignment, and gate assignment are reviewed with customer in a thorough and clear manner.
  • Knowledge of and ability to utilize CRS system.
  • Knowledge of ticket documentation, terminology, and codes.
  • Knowledge of company and vendor policies regarding PNR standards and ticketing.
  • Knowledge of ticketless travel and other current technologies and procedures.
  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Responsibility
  • Management of time
  • Applying technology
Tag luggage
  • Luggage is tagged correctly, reflecting the proper destination.
  • Luggage is not checked in after the cut-off time; rather the customer is asked to take luggage directly to the gate.
  • Customer is asked if there is identification inside and outside the bag.
  • Customer is asked if crucial items are carried on, rather than checked.
  • Consultant verbally confirms that the number of bags and destination is accurately stated.
  • Where appropriate, the customer is asked if the bag contains hazardous material.
  • Knowledge of and ability to utilize CRS.
  • Knowledge of cut-off times and procedures for baggage.
  • Knowledge of baggage check-in and carry-on procedures.
  • Knowledge of the definition of crucial and hazardous items.
  • Knowledge of seasonal embargoes and restrictions.
  • Reasoning
  • Responsibility
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Decision making
Resolve travel problems for customers
  • Customer is re-accommodated effectively and in a timely manner.
  • Effective customer service techniques and status updates are employed according to company policies and procedures.
  • Information regarding travel options is communicated accurately and clearly.
  • Where applicable, individuals work effectively as a team.
  • Customer questions are answered politely, respectfully and patiently.
  • Knowledge of CRS.
  • Knowledge of inter-airline contractual agreements regarding reciprocity.
  • Knowledge of inter-airline acceptance procedures.
  • Knowledge of travel options to the destination of choice.
  • Knowledge of company policies regarding status updates and resolution options.
  • Sociability
  • Creative thinking
  • Management of time
  • Listening
  • Problem solving
  • Interpreting information
  • Serving customers
  • Self-worth
Provide airport information
  • Information is presented accurately and clearly.
  • Customer has a complete and clear knowledge of the procedure, location, etc.
  • Knowledge of the airport.
  • Knowledge of leading edge technology at the airport.
  • Knowledge of airport procedures.
  • Visualization
  • Selecting appropriate technology
  • Sociability
  • Serving customers