Ask the Experts: June 1

Ask the Experts: June 1
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THE PANEL

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Q: Name and Agency withheld:

I've been at my present agency for five years and have been overlooked for a couple of promotions when opportunities have arisen in the office. I really like it here, but to be honest, I'm a bit worried that my career is going down the loo. Do you have any advice?

Adriana says:

Five years of service definitely shows great loyalty to your employer. But you need to ask yourself why you have been overlooked for a promotion. Does your manager actually know you want to be promoted and take on more responsibility?

My suggestion is to make an appointment to sit down with your manager and let them know that you really enjoy being a part of the team, but would also like to be considered for a promotion. Ask them if there is anything you can do to assist you in gaining a promotion or to progress career-wise.

For example, do you need to complete a training course to upskill your current skill set? Then set goals and timeframes for these to be achieved.

If management is still not supportive of your advancement aspirations, then it may be worth considering moving on to a larger company that can offer your career more scope.

Georgia Michaels of Uphill Travel asks:

I have a client who is a member of multiple reward programs and he constantly complains about points expiring without his knowledge. Is there any advice I could pass on to help him better manage his rewards?

David says:

There are actually several websites dedicated to helping people like your client better manage their loyalty assets. Check out AwardWallet (www.awardwallet.com), Mileage Manager (www.mileagemanager.com), Mileport (www.mileport.com) and GoMiles (www.gomiles.com). These sites work by communicating directly with a person's loyalty schemes – a user simply provides their authorisation and the sites then automatically monitor their points.

But they do more than simply tell someone what they've got; they also help protect points by alerting travellers well before their assets are going to expire, and they can provide clever advice on how to extend validity. In addition, these services will offer tips on how to earn more points faster and explain ways to maximise the value of points once it's time to redeem them.

When deciding which service to sign up for there are a couple of things your client should consider. For a start there is the cost (some sites are free, but others charge a small annual subscription or a fee for premium services). Then there is the selection of loyalty programs covered (most work with a wide range of airline, hotel, car rental, rail, cruise and credit card programs, but some tend to be US-centric). Finally, have a close look at the level of customer support on offer. With any luck, you will find a few avenues to make your client's life easier.

Name Withheld of Harvey World Travel asks:

I manage a store and a number of our senior staff recently left. In their place we recruited three young and rather green travel agents. Their enthusiasm is great, but they are seriously lacking in product knowledge. Furthermore, they're not as willing to learn as the older generation. I recently spoke to a peer within our agency network and they told me that they've been offering cash incentives to their Generation Y employees to do online learning courses in their own time and to come in early for seminars. What are your opinions on this and also on managing Gen Y in general?

Rachael says:

Generation Y employees are definitely different from you and me, and managing them effectively will almost certainly require you to ditch some of your past strategies. That said, when managed properly, Gen Y staff can make passionate and energetic team members. The key is understanding what makes Gen Y tick, what they want, and how best to nudge them in the direction of meeting your needs.

The term Gen Y loosely applies to people born between 1980 and 2000. Generally speaking, their basic attitude can be summed up in five words – what's in it for me? They are not looking to make a lifetime commitment to you or anyone else. They are looking for a situation that will deliver what they want, and if you and your company can't provide it, they will simply seek employment elsewhere.

However, Gen Ys are also very responsive to incentives, which I believe makes your peer's suggestion of cash rewards a good one. Here are a few other ideas to get them excited about increasing their product knowledge and taking training courses.

  • Gen Ys appreciate teamwork and might enjoy the opportunity to complete online modules or attend training in pairs. They can then be tasked with producing a suggestion for improvement together.
  • Gen Ys also respond to status – so give them the opportunity to work towards a role like Cruise Specialist or help them develop a particular area of proficiency.
  • Make training part of some type of promotion program for them and award them additional responsibilities once training is completed. For example, have them attend a certain number of sessions before they can start selling US product, become an international consultant or, after a period of time, become a senior consultant.

By providing your Gen Y employees with clear benefits for performance, you should be able to encourage them to perform at their peak.

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

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