Visit Britain launches training scheme

'Brit Agents' to qualify for Fams and events

Carol Maddison, manager, UAE, Visit Britain.
Carol Maddison, manager, UAE, Visit Britain.

Agents who successfully become a BritAgent to qualify for Fam trips and events.

Visit Britain, the UK’s national tourism board is to launch its first travel agent training programme in the Middle East to boost knowledge of the destination among the travel trade.

The ‘BritAgent’ programme – a free, e-learning course –– will be launched in the UAE at the end of September at a cost of AED 56,562 (£10,000 ). Visit Britain aims to get at least 30 UAE Britain specialists trained up before rolling out the programme across the GCC.

Carol Maddison, manager, UAE, Visit Britain said the idea behind the programme was to increase knowledge among agents about areas of Britain outside London.

“This market thinks Britain is London,” said Maddison. “Agencies promoting Britain don’t know the rest of the UK so it’s part of our remit to get more information to them about England, Scotland and Wales.

“The Arab traveller – which is our main target audience because they are high-spenders – is still very much interactive with the travel trade. We want when people say to agent “I’m interested in Britain” that they don’t just hear “Go to London, stay in Marble Arch and go to Oxford Street.”

This programme is about ensuring agents’ product knowledge is better.” The three-month programme is free of charge and agents that complete the course will have the chance to qualify for fam trips and trade events. Any agency with two qualified ‘BritAgents’ will be awarded ‘specialist status’ from Visit Britain.

“We will include agents in a draw to come on our UK travel trade events,” said Maddison. “For example DEBI (Destination Britain and Ireland), which was in Dubai this year but will either be in India or South Africa next year, the Visit Scotland Expo, Discovery, which is a MICE event, and Best of Britain and Ireland, which will be held in Birmingham next year.”

“There will also be other goodies and giveaways to incentivise them along the way,” added Maddison.

“But we’re hoping that the agents will want to know more about a country they’re promoting as part of their own career progression and interest in selling the destination. It’s so much easier to have an interactive conversation with someone if you know what you are talking about.”

Maddison added that in today’s zero commission environment it was vital that travel agents ensured their product knowledge was as up to date as possible.

“Commissions that you used to get on selling tickets used to keep the agency going but they have fallen by the wayside now.

And it’s such a competitive market that to make your agency stand out you want to give your customer that value-added experience, so having the right information so you can suggest to your client where to go and what to do is a good thing.”

BritAgents will be launched in Dubai on the 29 September at the British Ambassador’s residence followed by an Abu Dhabi launch in the first week of October with a presentation to general managers of the region’s top travel agencies.

Each agency will be asked to nominate two counter staff to sign up for the course. Visit Britain is targeting March 2011 for its first graduation ceremony of successful BritAgents.

BritAgents programme details:

The BritAgent programme is broken up into three core modules:

Module 1: Destination Britain
This involves learning about the history and culture of Britain; as well as important information about visa and customs, weather, transport, accommodation and travel trade contacts such as ground handlers and guides.

Module 2: Explore Britain
This involves learning what there is to see and do in all regions of Britain including London, England, Scotland and Wales.

Module 3: Experience Britain
Activities and attractions in Britain to help you build itineraries for your clients: including heritage and culture; museums and galleries; shopping; outdoor activities and sports.

Why become a Brit Agent?

  • Agents who successfully complete the BritAgents programme will be invited to a special graduation ceremony hosted by Visit Britain and will receive a BritAgent certificate. 
  • Official BritAgent ‘specialist status’ will be awarded to any Travel Agency with two or more qualified BritAgents. 
  • All BritAgent specialists will be listed on www.visitbritain.com
  • All BritAgents get a Britain marketing toolkit
  • All BritAgents get the chance to qualify for fam trips and B2B Trade Events

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