Vancouver Specialist Online Training System

Reaching Out to Influential Groups

Travel agents tend to specialize in particular regions and, with their desire to be seen as experts, are driven to perpetually upgrade their knowledge. Following the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, awareness of Vancouver was particularly high. Tourism Vancouver wanted to take advantage of this momentum by creating a sophisticated marketing and sales tool to supplement the travel trade department. This would be used to educate travel and sales agents in core markets such as the UK, Germany, Australia, US, and China.more

Making it Enjoyable and Memorable

Our research revealed that many similar training apps had major usability problems, and generally felt overwhelming, confusing, and boring. In order to build an easy-to-use tool, we thoughtfully structured the content and tools to help visitors retain new information.

Through powerful imagery and rich media, we showcased the variety of experiences to be had in the city, and used logical quiz integration to build engagement. This was all done on a very tight timeline, while collaborating with multiple parties.

Providing a Rewarding Experience

The success of the Vancouver Specialist Program is evident in the numbers. Within four months of launching, over 500 travel agents signed up, with 61% completing the program and earning their designation. Agents have also noted how much they enjoy using the program, which continues to evolve with its most recent translation, into Chinese. Furthermore, some tourism supplier members use the program for in-house training, demonstrating that even those close to home find the content useful. Take a look atĀ


Travel experts keen to build their knowledge and best service their clients are well served by the Vancouver Specialist Program (VSP). The VSP offers free education on the city, and the surrounding area, to interested parties.

VSP about page
VSP login page

Prior to logging in, site visitors are introduced to the program, made aware of the value of participating, and assured of its legitimacy. From there, they are able to login easily by providing some basic information. (Registered members can login with just an email address and password.)

Upon logging in, a Tourism Vancouver representative welcomes them, and explains the program in a little more detail. They are then presented with a series of modules they can complete at their own pace. Their progress is stored for each time they return to the site.

Sections are marked with scenic images of the city and clear explanations on what to expect ahead. Doing so helps pace the self-learning experience, and serves as a nice reminder that one is making progress.

Throughout the training program visuals relating to the city—ranging from spectacular environments to souvenirs and high-energy activities—help create a rapport with those who will soon be representing Vancouver to prospective travelers.

VSP module
VSP module
VSP module

In order to fully engage program participants, the site is relatively diverse from a visual standpoint. Images are peppered liberally throughout the program, and layouts vary to accommodate changing content types.

VSP dashboard detail
VSP navigation detail
VSP map detail
VSP quiz detail

Pictured (from top left, clockwise): ticket stubs and notebook treatments connote notions of travel and exploration; the navigation system helps situate the participant in their journey; many pages wrap with a quick quiz to ensure retention; integration with Google Maps and StreetView allows users to get a better sense of particular neighborhoods.

We created this animation piece to introduce Vancouver and to show the benefits of the VSP to travel agents around the world.


  • Extensive discovery process
  • Information architecture and interaction design
  • Creative concept and design direction
  • Website and training program development
  • Testing, handover, and staff training

Key Benefits

  • Training program is easy and enjoyable to use
  • Added incentives encourage participation
  • Enables travel agents to promote Vancouver with confidence
  • Multiple languages extends program reach globally
  • Improved visibility and promotion for the city


  • Modular system using Concrete5 software
  • Intuitive administration log-in area
  • Quiz integration and responsive progress bar
  • Integrates YouTube, Google Maps and StreetView APIs
  • Language translation capabilities


"The smashLAB team is creative, intuitive and extremely customer centric. Our online educational program continues to receive overwhelming positive feedback by our clients. smashLAB exceeded our expectations on this project."