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The Travel Institute Celebrates 30,000th Certified Graduate

TTI celebrates 30,000th certified graduate

Strong Travel’s Barrett Phillips Spotlighted in Growing Educated Agent Community


FRAMINGHAM, MA, October 24, 2023 – The Travel Institute, the industry’s education leader, is celebrating its 30,000th certified graduate from its flagship, 3-tier certification program for CTA®, CTC®, and CTIE® credentials. Earning distinction as the 30K milestone graduate is independent contractor Barrett Phillips, CTA, of Barrett Phillips Travel Designs LLC, affiliated with Dallas-based Strong Travel Services.


“My sincerest congratulations to Barrett as our thirty thousandth certified graduate,” offered Diane Petras, CTIE, president of The Travel Institute. “Set on doing her best for travelers, she is a testament to the commitment made by our ever-growing roster of certified agents, who underscore professionalism every day for themselves and for our industry,” she remarked, noting the non-profit has averaged 1,000 certified graduates annually since 2018.


Phillips designs luxury travel itineraries for client vacations and bucket-list trips. Named both a 2023 Rising Star Luxury Travel Consultant by Travel + Leisure and ILTM while also being featured on the 2023 30Under30 list by Travel Agent Central this past year, her drive and dedication are recognized broadly. Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, Barrett holds a degree in tourism management with a minor in business administration from the University of South Carolina.


“Having my CTA legitimizes me as an agent; it gives people a level of comfort whether they know me or not but especially as they trust me with their money and with their dream trip. Those three letters, CTA, reiterate my professionalism and demonstrate I actually am who I say I am,” Phillips explained, adding the “unmatched” credibility certification offers. According to The Changing Face of Travel Agents 2023, certification through The Travel Institute consistently enables agents to earn more, demonstrating the personal skills, professional knowledge and business aptitude that enable greater success and also lead to increased job satisfaction.


Jim Strong CTC, ACC, owner of Strong Travel, also offered Phillips his congratulations while emphasizing his long-held view on the value certification brings. “A certified travel professional myself for many decades, I can attest to the power The Travel Institute’s agent certification brings to my client relationships each and every day,” Strong said, emphasizing Strong Travel uses certification as a tool to demonstrate agent competency and provide travelers the confidence they seek. “Travelers want to work with professionals and we have found the best way to ensure their experience meets their expectations is through certified agents,” he explained.


Motivated by Strong, Phillips was also inspired by industry veteran Jennifer Ruk, CTA, a fellow agent with Strong Travel, whom Phillips describes as her “mentor” and with whom she interned before committing to a travel career. “Starting out, I didn’t realize I was starting with the best; I’m truly blessed to be in the care of the Strong Travel team, offering me a wealth of knowledge and support every single day,” she reflected. “It’s been a fantastic year but it’s also been very humbling; while I’m honored by these accolades, I know I still have a lot to learn.”


And learn she will, Phillips stressed, adding she’s most interested now in furthering her destination knowledge and expanding her social media presence. “Music to my ears,” quipped Petras, stressing agent learning “never ends” in the ever-evolving travel industry. “We are absolutely celebrating this significant achievement for Barrett and for all certified graduates today. That said, tomorrow it’s back at it, continuing to learn and grow so travelers continue to see the value travel professionals bring to their experience.”


Meet Barrett and learn more about her drive for travel industry success.


Learn more about The Travel Institute’s certification programs.