Learning and Development at 33 Times the Speed of Sound!


Travel & Hospitality have been two of the verticals hit hardest by the pandemic, with firms having to make dramatic shifts in how they market, support and deliver services to meet customers’ changing needs. After all, we can’t – and won’t – stay in our homes forever, right?

As competitors who can’t make the shift go out of business or sell out, the more agile firms just may very well thrive over the next three to five years. After all, I still dream of taking my family to Amsterdam, Paris and Belgium. It just might not be in the next three to four months.

One of the most important areas for Travel & Hospitality enterprises to address is customer support and experience. Guests are quick to notice long they stay on hold and whether the person they ultimately reach is knowledgeable, friendly and eager to help them. They pay attention to how advanced an automated system is and how quickly their questions can be resolved.

A key differentiator for companies in this sector will be the training their service providers give their customer care and call center teams. While there has always been a need for continuous learning, the pandemic created an immediate need for a complete reboot, and service providers that are not ready will struggle to meet the demands of their clients.

Several world-class service providers – Infosys, Wipro, Cognizant, IGT, UST Global and Zensar to name a few – have unique approaches to learning and development. For example, Infosys created six innovation offices in the U.S. that each partner with local universities and colleges to nurture new talent. The innovation offices are an important part of the company’s mix of onshore, nearshore and offshore offerings. At UST Global, an initiative called Step IT Up America trains and employs women, minorities and veterans in technology careers.

Another service provider IGT offers cost-effective locations across several countries to ensure continuity of service and meet the demands of their global client base. To train its call center teams, it offers what it calls its 11.2 Learning Academy/Travel School. Why 11.2? Because that is the velocity required to escape the gravitational pull of the Earth. How fast is 11.2? It’s 33 times faster than the speed of sound!

IGT’s academy is designed to rapidly onboard, skill and create high-quality call center teams. The employees are not called call center agents – they’re purposefully called travel experts. The IGT 11.2 Learning Academy combines key insights and components from recognized programs, including The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle, into a six-stage approach that includes:

  1. Ignition: gamify, discover and learn, and use primal cues to create motivational energy that fuels success
  2. Deep practice: repetition using simulators
  3. Chunk it up: break learning materials into smaller units
  4. Exaggerated slowness: extended time for more complicated units
  5. Teach back: teach others what you learned to get a deeper understanding of material
  6. Master coaching: coach participants on areas that need additional work

Not only does IGT’s learning and development curriculum cover all the key elements of a best-in-class learning and development program, its high retention rates indicate that its clients agree.

Thinking about how to prepare for the “new future” can be scary, but firms like IGT, which are building differentiated learning and development programs, are seizing the opportunity for growth. As you review your customer care centers and other client-facing resources, prioritize learning and development – it may be the piece of the puzzle that allows you to travel 33 times the speed of sound!

ISG is a leading global technology research and advisory firm in a unique position to help companies with some of their toughest challenges including digital transformation to help you meet your growth objectives and maintain exceptional customer, employee and user experience. Contact us if you want to learn more about how we can help you and your team.


About the author

John Boccuzzi, Jr.

John Boccuzzi, Jr.

What he does at ISG

John was named Partner and President of ISG Research in January 2024 and is responsible for the ISG Research business globally, including such products as ISG Provider Lens™, ISG ProBenchmark™, ISG Momentum® and ISG Events.

Past achievements for clients

John serves enterprises, technology and software companies globally to help them achieve operational excellence and accelerate growth. John joined ISG in 2019 and most recently was Partner and Chief Sales Officer, ISG Research. John is the creator and co-host of the ISG John and Ola Show, a LinkedIn Live broadcast. John has twenty-five years of executive and sales management experience working in the retail and data analytics industries.