Learning Paths International Blog
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Comments Off on Lessons from Travel Agent Training
Category: Instructional Design

JFK-terminal-mapI’ve spent a lot of the last year building training for new travel agents.  Most people when they start a program like this start to think about an outline what they think travel agents need to know.  They need to know geography, their computer system, airlines, hotels, sales, etc.  Then they arrange them in nice neat little boxes like a typical school curriculum.  Usually there are lots and lot of tests.

We decided that this is totally the wrong approach.  What we looked at was what makes a travel agent valuable to the travel agency owner.  What they really value is for a new travel agent to be able to generate more in commissions and fees than they pay to have the travel agent work for them.  We were then able to define the proficiency statements that lead to this outcome.  For example, most leisure agents book a lot of Disney vacations.  So it makes sense to devote a lot of time to teach and practice how to book and sell Disney.  We identified each of the other destinations or types of travel that make up the vast majority of what travel agents handle.

We also built in a lot of practice in a lot of different ways.  You can’t role play who Disney trip and think you’ve got it mastered.  It’s more like 20 to 50.  Maybe more.  Also the real test is not getting 75% on a multiple choice test.  It’s listening to and observing students to see how they use their skills and knowledge in actual sales situations.  This program is multiple weeks of training and it’s one of the most interesting that I’ve ever worked on.

Tags: instructional design, learning, training, travel
Comments Off on Challenges of Training in China
Category: Learning Paths

There are a lot of companies that are planning to do training in China including bringing their content and traning to their Chinese operations.  I had an opportunity to discuss this issue with Jeff Chai of Learning Paths China.  Here’s what he thought was important.

From business and strategic perspectives:

1. Aligning training to business priority

  • China businesses may have very different management priorities than those in matured markets.  Those challenges could vary from industry to industry and company to company depending on
  • Development stage (whether it is in the process of localizing production, expanding global sourcing, tapping local market, setting up R&D center, developing wider distribution network, or doing M&A…),
  • Business structure (solely owned, JV, or representative office through distributors,etc.

2. Leader Sponsorship

  • Poorly developed leadership pipeline and lack of fully competent top management are not uncommon
  • HQ’s high, sometimes unrealistic, expectation on business growth puts pressure on local business leaders and pushes them act short-term to survive tomorrow, rather pay attention to business sustainability and employee development

3. Communication

  • Often it is not easy to clearly explain and convince leadership of training needs and compelling them to act.

Implementation challenges:

4. Standardization vs customization:

  • Arguments from HQ: local country shall follow HQ standard process, contents and system; it is a way to manage the global business and ensure the ‘one company’ culture;
  • Arguments from China: different market situation; different development and sophistication level of management practice and staff skill; language and cultural difference issue;

5. Language and cultural factors

  • Not every staff is fluent in English, for some training participants materials and delivery needs to be in Mandarin
  • Need to take into consideration of cultural factors when develop and deliver the training, so that staff would find the training realistic when they apply it in the workplace

6. Local training support

  • Lack of training professionals competent in ISD, project management, change and other skills means well-designed training program may not get the same level of in-house support

7. Follow up and coaching:

  • Lack of qualified coach and coaching culture
  • Connection with other HR functions: if other HR functions are not performing, it will affect training (such as high turnover rate, low employee engagement and etc)

8. Cost issues:

  • Cost of flying-in trainers would be high

To see more about Learning Paths in China, go to lpi-china.com


Tags: China, instructional design, learning, learning paths, outsourcing, traning

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