People believe that if they buy travel software, all their problems will magically disappear. A software system will not do the work. People using the software system will do the work. If you choose the right system for your travel business, they should do the work faster and easier.
But a very important thing, often neglected by our customers, is that people need to learn how to use the software. This is a crucial step. When you see presentations, when you try demos, you will be able to get a feeling for the travel booking software. When using the user manual, you will be able to see which button performs what function.
The training process is a process you must go through with a professional member of the software team, who is there to help you map your business processes to the software.
Why you need training for your travel booking software
You purchased a new travel software solution for your travel business. You watched the demo, you read or watched the tutorials, you have the user manual in front of you and away you go.
And away you stop. You have a real life complex contract with a supplier in front of you, and suddenly all that user friendliness and simplicity of the travel booking software is not that simple and user friendly anymore.
Then you try to do something on your own, very often ignoring the manual (who is going to read through 100 pages, anyway?), and you wind up in one of three scenarios:
- Calling for help every two minutes, making simple tasks take forever
- Finding semi-solutions on your own which wind up with the system being set up incorrectly
- Giving up on the software altogether and going back to your old excel spreadsheets
You need training!
Key points of training are:
- Mapping your actual business processes to the travel software
- Understanding how the new software is intended to be used
- Understanding how the new software will work in real life situations
- Understanding how the new software will provide the benefits you require
After getting a grip on these four key points, you can start using the travel software on your own (of course, still relying on the tutorials and the user manual, these are not to be ignored!).
Training is a process that takes time. In our experience, people being trained should always prepare for training. This is a crucial step and is often overlooked by travel agencies and tour operators. Reserve a time slot of one hour or so for your employees to prepare for the training session.
In this preparation, the trainees should concentrate on the following:
- Define what they do. Prioritize. Define the most common tasks and the most time consuming tasks.
- Define what they cannot do in the current software, if switching to new travel software.
- Define which outputs they need (which reports, which information displayed…).
- Define which use cases are common and which are the exceptions that happen once in a thousand cases. Focus on the important ones.
It would be great if the software vendor employee doing the training would tell you what is going to be included in the next training session.
The person who is going to do the training is probably going to have a training schedule. These training schedules are usually generic, but if the trainer knows anything about the job, they will have matched the training to meet your needs. As much as they can.
However, it is impossible for your trainer to know all the things you do. Most probably, during the presales and the sales process, the software vendor did get acquainted with what you do (if they did not, then you have a bigger problem!) and would know what the general things you need are.
But there are always some specifics. So, prepare the questions you would like to know the answers to. If possible, send them to the trainer in advance, so they have time to prepare. Also, during the presentation, feel free to ask questions.
If a question is related to the subject at hand, ask it immediately. If not, note it down for later. It is possible that the question popped into your head and that the trainer will come to that later. Of course, if you ask it immediately, the trainer will tell you about this. The most important thing is that you do not let any of your questions or issues get skipped.
Post training process
After the training it is very important to plan some time to try and do the homework, the closer to the training session, the better. Human brain forgets things quickly, and it is likely to remember things it repeated better.
If you have had a training session with someone explaining you how to do something, it is best to try it out immediately. This will help you understand what was discussed in the session better, and will also push you to prepare the questions for the trainer.
This step is crucial, and is very often overlooked by the companies as less important than everyday work. However, if overlooked, it will slow down the implementation of the new software into the company.
Training sessions – continuous but separated
The human brain is a powerful tool, but has certain standard ways of functioning. It needs to master new skills slowly and continuously. Slow and constant curve of acquiring new knowledge and constant practice are a recipe for success.
This applies to learning how to use new software as well. Usually the trainers themselves will suggest to take more sessions of shorter time, and to tackle one different thing in each session. And go with this, this is the way you and your employees will get the maximum out of sessions.
However, even more importantly, do the homework. If you had a session about organizing a tour, use the time planned for post training and try to enter a tour. Try to follow exactly what you have seen in the session, but with your own real life examples. Always check the user manual, it is possible that some things in the manual will help you remember things you have seen in training.
Note down questions and send them to your trainer. Remember, the more accurate the question, the easier it is for the trainer to understand the scope and the source of the problem. So, feel free to make questions described in detail, screenshots help a lot as well.
Work on training organization with your trainer. They will know what they need to show you, however, they do not know which of your employees are in charge of which section of work. This is where you need to help them.
In case you have a team doing just the invoicing, a team doing product preparation, a team doing only counter sales… explain this to your trainer, and make him adapt the program. Work with your trainer to get the best training possible. This does take time, but it shows as a great investment down the road.
Follow up training
OK, so you have done the training, you survived and your agency is now merrily working, doing their job and making worldwide travellers happy. If you have done a good job selecting the correct software for your travel company, then that software will be constantly developing and improving. New upgrades and features will be added, optimizations made, changes to the user interface…
It is important to keep track of this. If the software vendor is serious about developing its product, they will have resource sections on their website, a news feed, a blog feed, different types of materials introducing you to new features and updates.
However, it is still a good idea to take the follow up training every 6-12 months, where a trainer from the software vendor will introduce you to new features and updates as well as how to use them.
Feel free to contact your vendors to ask for news and new features about their travel reservation software and whether they have developed something that might be useful for you, but you still do not know how to use it? Learn. Mastering a new feature may end up saving a lot of money and increasing sales!
The most important goal of training is to map your business processes to the software. If you do not devote time and effort to this, you might end up adapting your business processes to the software or, even worse, abandoning the software all together.
Training does take time. It takes time to organize, it takes time to prepare, it takes time to take, and it requires time to follow up on. However, this is a process of learning, and if you do not take it seriously, you might never end up using the new travel software system you just purchased.
User manuals and tutorials are cool and they can help you. However, they are not enough. You need a person who will focus on your specific problems and processes – this is something a user manual cannot do. You also need a person who will show you how the software was intended to handle your processes, so you can later get the maximum benefits out of it. You need the individual approach, after all, your travel business is unique.
To put it simply: Training is a must! But it pays off!