OTT courses keep the industry up-to-date with the latest restrictions
OTT’s POP Awards crowned the destinations, airlines, cruise lines, accommodation and visitor attractions which had attracted the most agents course passes as well as the industry’s marketing maestros.
The Awards also honoured OTT’s Gurus – agents who have taken OTT courses to expand their knowledge, helping their customers to make more informed choices and making more sales.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been speaking to some of our Gurus and finding out more on how they use OTT to expand their knowledge.
This week, we catch up with our Specialist Travel Guru and Legend of Legends – Zeb Akhtar, Kenward Travel from Kenward Travel. Zeb has spent the equivalent of 10 months over the past few years honing his travel knowledge through passing more than 350 courses with OTT...
What does your company specialise in?
“We specialise in long haul but during the pandemic, there has been a change. Our best sellers currently are Caribbean and Europe bookings, for immediate travel and Indian Ocean, Far East, and US for October onwards.
When did you first start using OTT?
“Probably a few years ago, but only properly, I guess, with a bit more passion, during the Pandemic. I heard about it years ago, but it was always just in the background., I did some of the courses and some competitions and earned some badges. I don’t know how many I’ve actually taken but it’s a fair few, isn’t it?!”
“I don't actually know! Julia did say there was a number but, honestly, I think it's just more that every time there's a new course that comes out, if I see it, I just want to do it!
How does OTT help your professional development?
“During the pandemic, people have asked the most random questions on Covid policies. It just helps knowing what’s going on. After the first lockdown last year, when people were a bit cautious about travelling, they had questions about what such and such airline was doing and their current Covid policy.”
“There's a need for courses to be updated, on a really regular basis, to help you answer those questions.”
How do you fit OTT’s courses into your working life?
“It’s not just about taking the course, I also revisit them once I’ve taken them, using them as a reference. You don’t have to do the course again or take the test, you can just use them to look up details if something wants to know something about particular.”
Name your favourite course – and why?
“The best courses are those which are regularly updated and I think the airlines are the most proactive.
“One of the courses that conveyed information really well that I’ve recently completed is the course on Antigua, which helped me, especially as I wasn't expecting it to go on the green list, when it did. It helped me to learn about their Covid and quarantine requirements and more about the destination.
“People just want to go somewhere that’s less likely to go on to the Amber List. Whilst Turks and Caicos has the issue of limited availability, Antigua has something for everybody, and all budgets as well.”
“The Singapore course is really in depth – the destination has so much more to it than just a stopover point.”
What’s your top tip to those on the journey to becoming a Guru?
“Extend your range of knowledge, so its not just airlines or destinations you normally would cover, do the ones you would’t normally deal with too, OTT has a mix of everything. I've recommended this to everybody. You don't even have to be in sales. I’ve suggested joining OTT to the customer service team at work too, you never know when something might come in useful."
What’s been your favourite travel adventure?
“Hong Kong. I've been there twice, once with a Uni friend. The first time it was just about, “Wow, there's a cheap flight to Hong Kong, let’s go, I still remember it was direct flights for £300!” The second time, I knew, okay, let's do this properly. We did stuff you wouldn’t normally even associate with Hong Kong, they shoot a canon every day at Noon at Causeway Bay, which few people know about. There’s a vegetarian restaurant that serves makes amazing food underneath the Big Buddha run by a nunnery.”