Monday, March 7, 2011

Proper Training of our Delegation Managers is another key to our success

We often reference the great amount of training each leader goes through each year prior to traveling (I've already written four blog posts on this subject). Our leaders are the teachers who ensure that our programs becomes extensions of the classrooms—focused on the educational and developmental aspects of students on our program and ultimately the safety of the students.

Part of what makes our Teacher Leaders effective that way, is that we pair them with Delegation Managers who are focused on providing the best experiences for the students at the locations they visit, so the teacher does not have to worry about that. Like our teacher leaders, Delegation Managers go through extensive training that is tailored based on the cultural diversity of the country. We would like to share with you what that training entails.

(Photo of our recent DM training in Beijing - more on that below.)

What is a Delegation Manager?

They are not just a tour guide. We prefer to refer to them as "Delegation Managers" because we think this title better reflects their role and responsibility on each program. They are not just a tour guide.

In addition to guiding the delegation for the entire length of the program, DMs also call ahead to make sure restaurant reservations are in place, work with any attraction we plan to visit to ensure our delegations have limited wait times, collaborate with the hotel management to ensure a smooth check-in and check-out progress, and act as safety specialists in everything our delegation does. If a member of the delegation isn’t feeling well, they know exactly where the closest clinic is to seek immediate medical attention. They are a lot of fun to be around and help the students learn more about the local culture and history of the area visited.

How are they trained?
The interview process to become a People to People Delegation Manager is a rigorous process and includes language tests (most DM’s must speak their home language, English, and at least one other language). They make presentations on the countries to be visited, the culture, and even a presentation on the foods in that area. This is all during the interview process before they are even selected. Many apply but only the best are chosen.

Once a Delegation Managers is selected, they then must complete an 8 to 10 day training program which includes things like:
  • First aid response and Crisis Management plans.
  • Fun ways to pass the time while travel between major attractions.
  • Teamwork between bus driver, delegation leader and the delegation manager
  • Hotel and Restaurant Check In / Check Out
  • Conducting Home stay meetings
  • Effective communication
  • Navigation systems
  • Practice on the motor coach
  • Use of micro phone
  • How to conduct safe group travel (especially in metro areas)
...And then even more training.

Once a DM completes the local training, they then begin real life touring and practice of the program. Once all the local training is complete and personal back ground checks are done, People to People Ambassador Programs sends one of our many Program Managers around the world to deliver very detailed training specific to that region.

Our U.S.-based Program Managers are responsible for each region of the world to ensure every detail is in place. It is this level of attention to detail that allows us to differentiate our programs from others. Each spring the Program Managers pack up and travel to the countries they represent to deliver very specific training related to the upcoming season. This is in addition to the People to People Ambassador Program on-line training each DM must complete. Greg Marcinkowski, Vice President of Travel Services and I had the opportunity to deliver that very training two weeks ago in Beijing, China.

That's Greg pictured above/left.

In this training we carefully explain how to create a team between the DM and the Teacher Leaders who travel with the students. We review our key safety processes that reduce the possibility of any unwanted event from happening, and we review past situations so we all have an opportunity to learn from our best practices.

These are no small events: our recent training in Beijing had well over 100 people in attendance and the agenda was packed full for all three days. Greg and I both shared important information and details about our delegations so that when the students arrive this summer, everyone is prepared and ready to help them have a life changing experience.

And that's me at the Beijing training, above.

As always, I wish you all safe travels and a healthy life!

Mike Bowers

Senior Director of Health & Safety

No comments:

Post a Comment