"Some 40 specialist agents presented their services and products to potential clients," reported Ana Maria Iglesias at the association. "The concept of these highly professional and specialised events generated significant interest in the Spanish media." Overall, 2,775 students visited the fairs and Iglesias commented that the media interest in the events helped to encourage visitors. "[It also] consolidated the association's position as the only guarantee of quality available in a sector that needs guarantees," she added.
In the future the fair will be held in six destinations - Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Zaragoza, Bilbao and Valencia. "Through the six-city Salon, we hope to achieve two things: more interest from Spanish students - youth and adults - to study language abroad; and language courses being sold mainly through Aseproce members - reducing or eliminating other channels like non-members or [sales via] the Internet," commented Iglesias.
The events attracted sponsorship from sources such as airlines, insurance brokers and mobile phone operators, while embassies and tourist boards from the UK, Canada, Malta, Australia and New Zealand also provided support. Aseproce's President, Juan Manuel Elizalde, said the fairs were a great achievement by the association.
Parent-child programmes big in Japan
Overseas experience for parent and child is a growing niche sector in the international exchange market, according to the Japanese press. Two newspapers there have carried stories of the rise in popularity of language school placements for parents that also cater for their child or children.
Last Resort agency in Japan is noted as the leader in this field, most commonly placing mothers in language schools while their child is catered for in a childcare centre. Sometimes, the mother is placed in a host family without receiving language tuition, to have experience of living overseas and allowing their child to have the experience of being in an English speaking environment.
In 2004, Last Resort placed 506 parent-child pairs overseas. "We get a lot of positive feedback," said Ryoko Nomura at the agency. "The mothers enjoy the experience in a foreign country and their children seem to get along with foreign children faster than their mothers. Many children are not afraid to speak English."
In the May issue of Language Travel Magazine, we printed an advert which claimed that Foyle Language School in Northern Ireland was the first private language school in Ireland (North or South) to be accredited by the British Council (page 42).
We would like to point out that all schools in the Republic of Ireland are not in the jurisdiction of the British Council and can only be accredited by Acels. Therefore, the advert was misleading. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q How do you maintain your unique selling point in what is a competitive marketplace?
Alexandra Galindo, Global Connection, Colombia
"[We rely on] professional counselling, focused on covering the individual needs of students who want to have a valuable experience abroad. To ensure that we get repeat business, we monitor current customers, following up development of their experience abroad. Initially, we use direct marketing approaches [as well as] informative seminars and online counselling through the web page, mailing, etc. Our staff are highly qualified, with a lot of knowledge and experience in all the programmes offered."
Ivan Galileos, Team Galileo, Canada
"A local agent in the student's home country can only act in the preliminary booking phase. Once a student arrives at his or her study destination, they are entirely on their own and can rely only on the school for five days a week and eventually on the homestay family if applicable. An agent in the country where the student will study for a certain time is better. If that agent is a real professional, they should meet the student at the airport, give them all necessary information/suggestions/advice/recommendations - obviously in the native language. We can assist [clients] throughout their stay; and counsel in course choices if necessary. In other words, our students feel safe, secure and backed up always by someone who knows their way around. Practically, this is the number-one selling tool. Customer service! With the above service I have guaranteed myself the return business which I have every year of between 15 and 20 per cent as well as 20 to 40 per cent word-of-mouth recommendations. The rest come from promotion with personal contacts, fairs, schools, search engines, ads, etc. My team and I have worldwide experience. I have lived for many years in Italy and Europe and I have almost 30 years experience in the tourism, airline and travel business and therefore I train my staff as per my needs and necessities."
Celso Garcia, CI-Central de Intercâmbio, Brazil
"In Central de Intercâmbio (CI) we always believe that there is no specific type of programme for success. Actually, the secret of success is to always tell the truth to our clients. Our staff receive training before they start their selling and every two months [from then on]. In this way, they are well prepared to present the best programme for the student. But which is the best programme for the Brazilian student? For CI it is the one that matches with his/her personality, his/her lifestyle and his/her family education. With this idea, we get more and more clients everyday and have a loyal relationship with all of them. In other words, our [best selling point] is that we tell the truth and let our clients choose what they consider to be the best option for them."
Helen Rowland, Via Lenguas, Mexico
"What we see customers really appreciate is the personal attention we give them in choosing the right course and then helping them with the application and payment procedure. Even though the Internet is there, we find that the majority of our clients need a bit of extra help, particularly if the information is not in their native language. Also, we keep up-to-date with all the latest information, new courses, new politics, and the clients appreciate our knowledge. We respond to the shifts in interest and focus on promoting courses that seem to attract more clients while not insisting on ones that have lost favour."
Agency of the month
In a series appearing each month in Language Travel Magazine, we ask a different language teaching institution to nominate one of their preferred agencies or agent partners, and to explain why this person/company is worthy of their nomination.
This month, the Elit Groupe - St Denis in France nominates Kub Travel Enterprises in Serbia & Montenegro.
Philippe Minereau, Director of Studies, explains this decision:
"I would like to nominate Kub Travel Enterprises in Belgrade. Since we started working with this agency, five or six years ago, things have never been so easy. Serbia was a new country for us and this agency already had experiences [working] in France. They visited us after the Berlin workshop and started sending students, groups of 10 or 15, on our summer programme. They care a lot about their children and I always promise to look after them as if they were mine. Kub are responsible people, very committed to their clients. I feel like we are working together with confidence and honesty. I personally run a workshop [in Serbia] with them every February. This is a heavy workload but also great fun, with a team which I consider [to be] part of my family. This year we will welcome former students from Kub as part of our activity team in Loches."
On the move
Bob Weaver is leaving Exeter University's English Language Centre in the UK to set up an International Study Centre at Kelly College, a private boarding school in Tavistock, Devon. Mr Weaver says he is excited by the prospect of this new challenge, which he is sharing with his wife. "We'll be running a one-year pre-A level course," he explained. "It's great to be involved in such a project in a prestigious school in a beautiful environment."
Canadian school Pacific Language Institute (PLI) is pleased to welcome Raymond Loretan as its new Marketing Manager for Europe and the Middle East. Mr Loretan brings a wealth of international business development experience to PLI, with an employment record including stints as a trade diplomat with the Canadian Embassy and a former instructor of marketing.
Internex in Canada - which specialises in customised internships, paid work travel, and study travel programmes in Vancouver and Toronto - is pleased to have Bruce Nickson join the team as Manager of Marketing and Business Development. Previously, Mr Nickson was Co-owner and Marketing Director of Modus Language Institute in Vancouver. He said, "Internex is a highly dynamic, relationship-driven organisation wishing to take study travel to its next logical step: experiential education."
Reka Lenart, formerly Europe Marketing Manager at Shane Global Language Centres, has taken the position of Marketing Director. Based in London, UK, she is joined by Ann Hawkings from Student Services, who becomes Marketing Officer, to form the new marketing team. Ms Lenart was involved in the industry as an agent in Hungary before joining the Shane group two years ago, and Ms Hawkings has been a teacher, administrator and sales coordinator in Korea and Canada. They look forward to using their international experience in the new team.
After many years with Griffith International in Brisbane, QLD, Australia, Carolyn Page has moved to International Institute Australia (IIA), one of Brisbane's newest English language institutes. As IIA's new Director Business Development, she says IIA's stimulating courses, supportive teaching and high service standards deserve to reach English language students from around the globe.
Education New Zealand (EdNZ) wants to ensure that agents get the message about New Zealand's marketable selling points. Stuart Boag, Strategic Promotions Manager, answers our questions.
Full name: Education New Zealand
Year established: 1999
Number of members: All institutions that can accept international students
Type of members: All sectors
Association's main role: Advocacy, promotion, marketing, research and managing industry initiatives
Government recognition: Yes
Code of practice: All institutions are bound by the government's mandatory code of practice
Complaints procedure: No
Contact details: Education New Zealand, PO Box 10500, The Terrace, Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: +61 292644490
Fax: +61 292644550
Beta EdNZ has been instrumental in bringing about a review of student immigration policy. Please outline the proposed changes.
The key changes are an extension of work opportunities for many students from 15 hours to 20 hours per week, and the introduction of a six-month open work permit that will allow students to move to more long-term work within New Zealand. There are a number of other changes for targeted groups, such as partners of postgraduate students.
What do you hope the changes will mean for the English language teaching (ELT) sector in particular?
The changes will certainly enhance New Zealand's competitiveness as an education destination. Equally as importantly, they flag New Zealand's willingness to adjust student immigration policy to better match the realities that students face. Many students in the ELT sector are keen to continue their studies in New Zealand, and the new changes will be a big help for them.
What else has EdNZ been up to in the last year?
It has been a busy year! We have hosted more agents' fam trips than ever before, and organised and coordinated a New Zealand presence at many events around the world. We have evolved the New Zealand educational brand and have also upgraded and relaunched the www.newzealandeducated.com website, which has been very successful.
How do you see the future for NZ educators?
It has been a tough 18 months for many institutions. After very strong growth for a number of years, the number of students coming to NZ slowed, and in some cases fell. The good news is that New Zealand institutions continue to offer excellent value and a safe supportive environment for students both inside and outside the classroom. Our educators are committed to education, and are professional and innovative about what they do.
Pictured enjoying lunch alfresco at the Alphe Miami workshop, from left to right: Tom Hang Guo from Xincon Technology School in New York, USA; Chinese translator; Li Dong from World Culture and Ed. Co. in China; Soo Kim, also from Xincon.
Agent Emiliano Trujillo from Teducamos in Colombia is the official Miami Master! Emiliano took part in a golfing contest named the Miami Masters, which took place on the day preceding the Alphe USA workshop. Despite tough international competition, Emiliano took the prize of an Odyssey putter. For those in the know, the form to beat is: 37 stableford points off a golfing handicap of eight.
Pictured here (left), at Alphe Canada, from left to right: Cristina Figueiro, AF Intercambios, Brazil; Susan Goldstein, Fiyto; Nicole Mandil, N&M Exchange Programs, Brazil. And later on in the evening (right), representatives of the international education industry proved their worth on the dancefloor...