We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Living the dream--- is there a travel agent in the house?

I've been in the Information Technology industry a long long time. Almost longer than I care to think about, but I never imagined at this point in my life I'd be starting over at something brand new. Making the decision that our life in Venice would be supported by running tours was the easy part. Figuring out how in the world we would actually DO that was another story!

We didn't know one thing about the travel business. One thing I did know however, was that in order for us to be credible at this venture, we needed more knowledge than we had. My life coach and I had numerous discussion on this topic. After some research, I decided I had no other recourse but to go to school to obtain the skills and knowledge I believed would be required. I found one school with locations in Boston and California offering a 2 week program that was of particular interest to me-- but they did not offer any kind of certification. I had the notion that having national certification of some kind was going to be important to have. Back to the drawing board researching schools, this time I came across The Travel Institute. This group is the one that awards national certification for travel professionals. Just what I needed! They offer both online and regular classroom type programs for entry level students. Also just what I was looking for.

I made the decision that I would benefit most from having the ability to discuss issues with the instructor and other students in a live forum, so I opted for the classroom program. Now all I had to do was find a location that would be workable for me. The gods were smiling down on me, and I still don't fully understand why. But I'm grateful . Extremely grateful. The closest location offering certification programs was just six miles up the road from where I live in Baltimore. I made a quick phone call to The Bennett School of Travel to obtain information only to find out that the semester had already begun. My work schedule wasn't going to cooperate with the class schedules for the first few weeks, however the school's director was more than generous about finding a way for me to work this all in, including some make up sessions for me. Ten weeks later I had successfully completed the Basic certification course offered by The Travel Institute. I was now in possession of the necessary credentials to give my future tour business in Venice the industry recognition required to compete in the market place. Crossing this hurdle felt SOOOO good!!!

I want to say at this point that I really believe things happen for a reason in our lives. My running across Joanne , the director at Bennett was one of those events that confirms this belief for me. And this is just one of several "meant to happen" events I've experienced along this journey. Every time I think about these now, looking back on them, I am more convinced than ever that our moving to Italy is inevitable. It was just meant to happen, thats all.

Joanne encouraged me to get the next level of certification, the CTA designation. Only about 30 percent of all travel agents have this designation. It's about another 10 weeks of school consisting of in depth learning on topics such as travel marketing, customer service, niche marketing, and communication skills for example. Back to class I went, every week for 10 weeks. I naively thought this would be easy, compared to what I go through in the Information Technology field on a day to day basis. Ha ha ha.... there was an enormous amount of material to plow through and learn in order to prepare for the certification exam. I can't even tell you how elated I was when I received the email from The Travel Institute informing me that I had passed.

I had worked with my life coach to create the road map I'd use to get to us moved to Italy. Completing the training classes for travel agent certification was a major milestone in our plan. There were many more milestones ahead of me, but having one under my belt was so rewarding.

We had the plan, and every day we were working the plan and staying on course! "Working the plan " became my mantra over the next year.

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