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Tips for Becoming Part of the Travel Team

Training new team members can be one of the most important things you do for your organization. It’s worth taking some time to do it right.

If your affinity program is growing, you will eventually need to bring new team members on board to help you develop member relationships, plan and market tours, manage pretrip logistics and even go out on the road with groups. You may also need to replace existing team members who move on to other things or even prepare someone to take your role in the organization when you retire.

Whatever the context, the training period is crucial in any new employee’s development. If you cut corners on training employees, you will limit their effectiveness, fall short of your organization’s objectives and, ultimately, create more trouble for yourself.

Here are 10 tips to help you ensure that your new team members become a valuable part of your travel program.

1) Hire for culture.

The most successful employee training starts long before their first day on the job. To ensure that new team members will thrive in your organization, you need to make sure they’re a cultural fit. If you’re able to have any input in interviewing outside candidates for a position or selecting existing employees to take on a new responsibility, look for people whose personalities and attitudes fit well with yours. It’s also helpful to consider the culture of your club because the way new team members interact with customers will have a big impact on the effectiveness of your program.

2) Communicate with clarity.

The training phase of a new employees’ time on the job is critical because many of the habits, practices and precedents that will drive those team members throughout their time with you will be established early on. It’s important for you to communicate clearly from the beginning. Make sure your new teammates understand exactly what is expected of them, and spend some time defining success for their roles. If there are any cardinal rules of your organization, make sure to explain them early in your relationships.

3) Teach them your ‘why.’

When you start working with new employees, you’ll likely have a lot of practical things to teach them. But while you work through their task lists with them, don’t forget to take some time to make sure they understand the greater purpose of their work. Whether it’s increasing customer deposits, engendering good will toward your university or growing relationships in your business community, a sense of purpose should drive everything your team does. If your team members grasp the “why” behind the “what,” they’ll be well equipped to deal with all sorts of challenges.

4) Make time for training.

One of the most common mistakes people make when on-boarding new team members is not dedicating enough time to train them. If you have so much work that you have to bring in another person just to get it all done, you may feel like you don’t have time to stop and teach them what to do. But dedicating a few days or even weeks to getting someone up to speed can be a worthwhile investment. Well- trained team members work much more quickly and effectively than those who are left to figure things out for themselves.

5) Prepare a cheat sheet.

Your new team members are going to come to work on their first day prepared to learn, so if you’re in charge of training them, you should come that day prepared to teach. A good way to do that is to spend some time before they arrive putting together a cheat sheet, a handbook, a reference guide or some other documentation that will help them. This can include specific procedures, lists of helpful information or answers to frequently asked questions. Giving your new team members resources like this at the beginning can make the training more efficient.

6) Take them on trips.

If your new team members’ duties will include escorting customers on trips, it’s vital that you take them on the road as part of their training. When you’re on tour together, your trainees will see how you interact with customers, how you manage trip logistics and what procedures you have in place in case of emergencies. And even if the new employees’ jobs won’t require them to travel with the group, joining in on at least short trips will help them have a more thorough understanding of your organization’s goals.

7) Take them to conferences.

If you regularly attend conferences, like the Select Traveler Conference, you should make a habit of bringing new team members along with you. Attending professional events together is a great way to carve out a dedicated chunk of time with new team members, and you’ll have lots of opportunities to talk about the ins and outs of your work while at the conference. And having them at the event may enable you to take more appointments and attend more educational sessions.

8) Give them big assignments.

Some lessons can only be learned through experience. Once new teammates have a general understanding of what they’re supposed to be doing, it’s time to give them an assignment and let them try things for themselves. You might be tempted to limit the scope of their work or micromanage them along the way, but this is counterproductive. Your new employees will be eager to demonstrate their ability, so you should give them significant assignments and then make yourself available to help as they work through them.

9) Give meaningful feedback.

Once your trainees start tackling significant assignments for themselves, your role shifts from giving them instruction to giving them feedback. Unfortunately, many supervisors fall short in this area. They either share only positive feedback because they don’t want to risk hurting the new team members, or they give feedback only when they find something to criticize. Avoid both these traps. Your teammates need positive feedback when they do something well, especially if they are young. And sharing constructive criticism with kindness will help them grow much more than avoiding difficult conversations.

10) Ask for their insights.

Once you have taught employees the basics of their new responsibilities, given them the resources they need and helped guide them through a few projects, you have an opportunity to ask them for their insights. There may be things you have done for a long time that don’t make sense to a newcomer. Perhaps they have ideas for making your operations more efficient or increasing interactions with customers. These new points of view can be helpful, so make sure your new team members know that you want feedback from them, too.

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