We are delighted to join Holidaybreak, as it gives [our companies] the chance to invest in a fast growing travel sector [adventure travel] both by organic growth and through acquisitions,” said Thomas Meier of Carpe Diem, who remains Managing Director.
His business partner, Janine Wegman of TravelWorks, who is also the Director of Dutch company, Activity International, will work on a consultancy basis for the Holidaybreak group, while both management teams remain in position. She said, “Holidaybreak, through their various group companies, offer destinations that we do not offer, so it is a big chance to develop new programmes.”
The news represents more big corporation money coming into the agency industry in Germany. FTI-owned LAL Sprachreisen is already a significant player in the outbound market.
The two recently-sold businesses were based in Münster and had a combined turnover of e13.8 million (US$17.5 million) in the 12 months ending 31 October 2005, according to Holidaybreak. Carl Michel, Chief Executive of the company, said, “The acquisitions of Carpe Diem and TravelWorks will provide us with profitable, growing businesses in the largest travel market in Europe.” He added that they would fit into the adventure travel division of the company, “increasing our activities in the rapidly growing ‘specialist’ sector of the holiday market”.
As well as the initial consideration of e10 million (US$12.7 million), which Holidaybreak reported was paid in cash on completion on 1 October, an additional amount of e2 million (US$ 2.5 million) will be payable, reported Michel, “dependent upon the performance of the business over the 12 months following completion”.
AEI Vietnam awards local agencies
Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Are you using Skype yet?
Jose Mendez, Abroad with Quorum, Spain
“Here at Abroad with Quorum, we have been using Skype for almost a year. Our name is Spanishcourses and it has been wonderful for us. We have contacted many clients, contacts, schools and agents through it. Since it gives us the option to chat, send attachments, pictures and more importantly, talk for free over the Internet, we are using it more than other services such as msn or Yahoo messenger. Not only has it helped reduce our expenses, but it also helps us stay in touch with our clients and partners. We have even bought a special “dual” cordless phone that can be used as a telephone for normal and Skype calls. Overall we are very satisfied with it, and hope that more and more of our clients and partners get it, as we feel it will transform our business the way the Internet did a decade or so ago!”
Joana Deppe, ABIC/ ICYE, Brazil
“I work for Associação Brasileira de Intercambio Cultural ABIC/ICYE a non-profit, multicultural, multi-faith and non-governmental organisation in Porto Alegre, Brazil. My workmates and I have been using Skype for about a year and a half, in order to get in contact and do business with more than 40 partner organisations around the world. Some of the organisations we deal with through Skype are located in Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the UK, Spain, India, Thailand, the USA, Mexico, New Zealand and Colombia. So far, we have not had many problems with Skype at all. Sometimes the connection fails due to other programmes running at the same time on the computer or due to damaged microphones. Our experience has shown us Skype is a very useful tool that appears to improve our work [in that] it is a fast, easy and free of charge calling system.”
Erich Thaler, Leiter Sprachreisen, Switzerland
“The most efficient way for me to talk to agents and to schools worldwide is to call them directly. I do not have to convene at a certain time to “meet” the partner over the phone. With the help of a low-cost provider I can use the telephone line for calls to Russia, the UK and Austria, even for free! Using Skype or similar Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) systems requests the same system for as many users as possible. In India, for example, the electricity is cut so often or the monsoon rain makes Internet service providers collapse so often that to wait for a Skype connection would be too big a loss of time for us.”
Paul Marriott, 123 English.com, UK
“I have been using Skype on and off for a couple of years though it is not my preferred method of VOIP. I have three principle issues with Skype. Firstly, it is a closed proprietary protocol meaning that it cannot inter-operate with other VOIP networks. Secondly, it’s a system whereby you need to have your PC switched on to be able to use it although it can actually be used on some PDAs. Thirdly, the very peer-to-peer nature of Skype means that your PC is used to relay calls, even when you’re not actually calling at the time this could be a problem for anyone with a capped (download limited) broadband connection package. An open protocol like SIP is used by hundreds of companies and its open protocol means that users from one network can usually call users on any other networks for free. I use several SIP providers, the main ones being VoipTalk.org and Voipstunt.com. Nearly all my outgoing calls go via Voipstunt a Betamax company which operates many clone companies.”
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, Estudio Sampere in Spain and Ecuador nominates Spanish Study Holidays in the UK. Juan Manuel Sampere at the school explains this decision:
“We have worked with Spanish Study Holidays (SSH) for the past 15 years. We really value our collaboration with this agency, because of their exceptionally high standard of professionalism and the closeness with which they work with their partner schools. They frequently visit our schools in Spain and invite us to visit their UK offices, in order to maintain and develop a really close working relationship.
The company truly appreciates the importance of really understanding a school, knowing the location, being familiar with the product, in order to be able to sell the school’s courses effectively to potential students. Thanks to this approach, students from SSH always arrive at our schools really well-informed of what to expect and well-matched to the course and accommodation they have been booked onto.
This, combined with the efficiency of their booking procedures and the genuine friendliness of the Spanish Study Holidays team, make SSH a real pleasure to work with.”
On the move
Shaun Sephton is the new Marketing Manager for International Student Programmes at Langley School District No. 35 in British Columbia, Canada. He spent the previous three years as the Associate Director of Marketing & Promotions in the Greater Victoria School District No. 61, working for international high school programmes. While it was not an easy decision to leave Victoria, it was easy for him to decide to return to his hometown.
ILI in Halifax, NS in Canada has a new Marketing Manager, Issmat Al-Akhali. Mr Al-Akhali joins ILI from Saint Mary’s University, also in Halifax, where he was an Admissions Officer and International Projects Manager in the Admissions Department. He will manage marketing and recruitment activities for ILI and also handle all agent relations and promotions. Meanwhile, after 23 years of serving as ILI’s Marketing Director, Chris Musial will be moving to ILI’s sister company, English Canada World Organisation (EC), based in Halifax, where he will become the Marketing Director. He said, “My work with English Canada will focus on opening new schools outside Canada with local universities, governments, and corporations to deliver our brand of high-quality language services.”
Linde Melhuish is the new Principal of Padworth College, a co-educational day and boarding school, in Reading, UK, following the departure of Robert Swan to become new Principal at the British International School in Cairo. Ms Melhuish joins Padworth from the leading independent girls’ school, Malvern Girls’ College, where she served as Head of the Languages Faculty. “I am delighted to accept the role of Principal at a school which exemplifies such a strong commitment to developing the academic potential of each individual student,” she said.
Garden City English School in Christchurch, New Zealand, has a new director at its helm. Hyden Toonen has 10 years of experience in a strong combination of scholastic publishing, teaching and management roles in Tokyo, Japan. His postgraduate work and industry background will help expand the school’s marketing repertoire, student-centered services and activities.
The International Association of Language Centres (Ialc) is embarking on a mission to meet more agents and spread the feelgood factor about the association. Executive Director, Jan Capper, answers our questions.
Full name: International Association of Language Centres
Year established: 1983
Number of members: 86
Type of members:
61 full, 25 associate (branches of full members)
Association’s main role:
accreditation, promotion, professional exchange
Government recognition: not applicable
Code of practice:
Yes - bylaws, code of ethics, quality assurance scheme
Complaints procedure: Yes
Agent workshops/fam trips: Yes
Ialc, Lombard House 12/17 Upper Bridge Street
Canterbury, CT1 2PY, UK.Tel: +44 1227769007 Fax: +44 1227769014Email: email@example.comWeb: www.ialc.org
How did it feel to be voted LTM Star School Association this year and why do you think Ialc won?
We were thrilled and honoured to be voted LTM Star School Association. We were the only multilingual association shortlisted, so we guess it is our diversity combined with the quality guarantee that agents appreciate. We’ve worked hard in recent years to improve our quality assurance, offer a wider range of schools and make our agent workshop really special.
What plans has Ialc got for the coming year?
We are holding our agent workshop in Cape Town in April 2007. We are adding a simple course finder to our website so that agents can search our database by course type as well as destination. We also aim to get out on the road to meet more agents and increase awareness of the quality and good value of Ialc schools.
How does Ialc compare with other international networks aiming to uphold quality standards?
Ialc is unique in providing quality assurance and marketing for independent language schools teaching different languages right across the world. We’ve developed a set of procedures over the last 24 years that enable us to uphold quality standards across different cultures and which encourage our members to improve continuously. Our three-stage accreditation inspection, annual documentation and individual school quality plan ensures that we are not just benchmarking but raising the standards of our schools. Our committees and board are drawn from our member schools and we discuss and make policy together. That produces a strong sense of identity and community in Ialc.
Which destinations does Ialc plan to add to its network?
Based on our agent survey, we are looking for new members in Canada, China, the UK, USA, Australia, Italy and Latin America among others. But we can never plan to add a destination with certainty. We have to be sure the school is the right quality for Ialc, that it wants to work with agents, would benefit from Ialc membership, and is private and independent.
With a reputation for getting the party going, the Spanish organisers of the Fedele workshop didn’t fail to disappoint this year, and one evening ended up being an impromptu limbo dancing session! Pictured underneath the pole is the lithe Carmen Linares from Carmen de la Cuevas in Granada.
Colombian agency association Anex held its third student fair in Bogota, Colombia, earlier this year, in collaboration with the Australian government. In the picture, from left to right: Peter Heywarths, Australian Embassy Ambassador for Colombia and Brazil; Lucia Cock de Leyva, Australian advisor in Colombia; Christopher Bishop, Director of Interlingua in Bogotá; Claudia Constanza Rozo, Marketing Director of Go Study and Travel in Colombia; Gursel Alici from University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia.