Contents - August 2005

Special Report
The perfect agent
Language travel agencies have to be first-class to attract and retain clients by providing a top-rate service. Education institutions also have a wishlist of qualities that good agencies should exhibit. Gillian Evans reports on the hallmark of the perfect agent.

Building business
In 10 years, the study abroad industry has evolved, sparking new associations, government interest and a variety of workshops dedicated to building business opportunities for companies active in the sector. Jane Vernon Smith reports.

Australia's sunshine
Think of Australia and sun, surf and barbecues may spring to mind. But it also offers international students plenty of educational opportunities in a variety of locations. Gillian Evans reports.


Knowledge is key
Although the language travel industry is a sister industry to mainstream tourism, the direction in which it is moving is different to its bigger and older sibling. While Internet sales and speedy booking processes - with an emphasis on self-selection rather than recommendation - are increasingly sought after by the mainstream travel consumer, there appears to be an increasing expectation for a language travel agent to impart personal knowledge and advice.

Agents themselves vouch for this, with some agents suggesting that they are likely to no longer attend workshops - the traditional meeting point for agents and schools - if additional fam trips to visit institutions are not part of the package (pages 22-23). Some agencies claim to only promote schools that have been visited personally by a member of staff at their agency (pages 26-30).

And in a survey of students using an agency for their school placement, the main reasons given for using the agency were convenience and reputation, which meant that students could trust their advice (page 28). The difference between a holiday and an educational experience is that clients hope for a more long-term benefit from the latter. There is also a lot more to consider when making a selection, from the quality of accommodation to teaching standards, nationality mix, activities, etc.

Trends seen in the mainstream travel industry are nevertheless seen to some extent in our industry. One-third of the students canvassed said they would not use an agency's service again, some of whom said it was because they now knew about the process. But a notable 63 per cent said they would use an agency again, underlining that for agencies providing a good service, they can be assured of repeat business.

To be a perfect agency, or even a good agency, businesses need to be aware of emerging trends. One agent in this issue notes that they respond to the shifts in interest in the market and "do not insist on courses that have lost favour" (page 11). The market is not as changeable as it may sound, however, as our Korea Agency Survey reveals that general and intensive courses are still the most popular (pages 16-17). But subtle trends do emerge and some types of courses do take off, such as parent-and-child programmes (page 10). We provide a guide to Spanish and dance courses in this issue (page 41) to keep you up-to-date with one niche programme, as part of our regular Spotlight articles on interesting and marketable products.

Knowledge is key

Alphe workshops a success in the USA and Canada
WYSTC 2006 to be in Australia

Ialc gains new members
Korean survey of study abroad
Malta chasing up tax from host families
UK barring legitimate students?

Travel News
Asia climbs up tourist league table
Malaysia marketing itself
Learn Japanese with Virgin Atlantic
Italian airline confirms restructuring deal

Agency News
Aseproce takes fairs to five Spanish cities
Parent-child programmes big in Japan


Agency Survey
Korea's slow climb
The Korean market appears to be picking up slowly after a difficult year in 2003, and a number of agencies believe the junior market is set to become a new growth area to match the college-bound client sector.

UK feedback

The results of this year's Feedback survey on the private language teaching sector in the UK show a good nationality mix in the classroom and high rates of agency usage for school enrollment.

Course Guide
Exam preparation in the USA

Spanish and dance
Combining language learning in Spain with learning to dance is an enjoyable way of getting to know the local culture while also enhancing language skills. We profile a range of courses on offer and report on this niche sector.

Regional Focus
Tour of Tuscany
Rolling hills, quaint hilltop villages, charming cities and an artistic heritage unrivalled in Italy - there is no doubt that Tuscany is not short of selling points. Amy Baker enjoys the trip.

Status: USA 2004
The Status survey is a venture by Language Travel Magazine, which gathers specific market data about all of the main language teaching markets in the world. For the first time, it is possible to compare world market statistics.