Industry issues - agents speak out
Q. Within the last year, has any school that you have work with launched an innovative programme or course that
has impressed you?
Marcos Gubernatte, Younger Intercâmbio Cultural, Brazil
“Recently we established an agreement with a Canadian School called ESL Wilderness Ranch that promotes a very intensive English programme that includes a ranch experience in British Columbia. For us, it was a welcome change to deal with this kind of school. In fact it sounds great in terms of innovation and flexibility compared with regular programmes out there. This school gives students a great opportunity to break standards and makes the difference in terms of English knowledge. It is a very immersive programme, combined with an alternative way of living which brings creativity and contentedness to the student. Nowadays, younger students love this kind of programme and we focus our offerings according to what is relevant to our student demands. These types of programmes have increased quite a lot in our portfolio. Courses and experiences like this make a whole lot of difference in the end.”
Daniela Pavoni, Mirunette International Education, Romania
“Looking for schools that offered interesting and innovative programmes for young adults we discovered Reach Cambridge, which has a wide range of subjects to be studied at a very high level. No other language school offers such a broad range with more than 30 subjects. It is very important to be creative and imaginative. This is what makes the difference, otherwise more or less all schools offer the same language programme. The development of the industry consists of new approaches and new products to be offered in line with future technology and communication. We, as agents, suggest to our partners new ideas to be put into practice and they were very open and happy to do this.”
Raymond Keung, UK Education Association, Hong Kong
“We are always on the look out for interesting and distinctive language courses in order to meet our clients’ high expectations in the greater China market. This year we specifically chose to work with providers who offer summer courses, such as Equestrian Performance and Professional Golf. In addition to the basic English lessons, they teach horse-riding and golf techniques. The courses are run by national professional organisations, ensuring students are trained up to competition standards. Impressed by their mix of good and distinctive elements, their courses match well with our special needs targeting the high-end market. More importantly, we place elite students at top schools in the UK and USA. In the age of globalisation, boundaries are diminished and competition is now fiercer than ever. Without a creative and imaginative mind, one can hardly stand out on the world stage. For this reason, it is necessary to remain innovative and proactive.”
Turkan Kumbuloglu, LSA Yurtdisi Egitim, Turkey
“Y.E.S/English Days at Disney is organised by Disney in the USA. The subjects in class are related to the concept of Disney theme parks. For instance, one day students study grammar and vocabulary about science in class, the next day they are taken to the ‘Magic Kingdom’ theme park. They are given information about how the rides work in the morning and in the afternoon they are free to enjoy them. Another day students study nature/animals in class and the next day they are taken to ‘Animal Kingdom’. They are given information about nature and the animals in the park and then have a safari tour. Personally, I found this programme extraordinary and very enjoyable.”
On the move
Lesinda Leightley has been appointed in the newly created role of Marketing Manager/Analyst for LAL’s portfolio of schools in Cape Town, London, Torbay, Malta and the USA. Ms Leightley’s responsibilities will be to increase student weeks during the off season and to analyse the market to establish product development opportunities. Ms Leightley previously worked for a Medical Indemnity company as a Senior Marketing Executive and in a similar role on Emap publication, Nursing Times.
Lucas Maikapar has been appointed Associate Director, International Marketing for TRU World, the international education division of Thompson Rivers University in Canada. Most recently the Director of Studies Cambridge Western Academy, Mr Maikapar brings 10 years of experience to this challenging new role. He will now work closely with TRU World’s marketing team and senior staff to help lead the university’s global marketing and recruitment programme.
Gabriela Facchini has recently joined Georgian College, Canada, in the position of Regional Manager, International Education and Development (Latin America). Ms Facchini worked at LSC Language Studies Canada (now EC Canada) for over 21 years as Director of Administration overseeing the operations of LSC schools in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and heading sales in Latin America.
Twin Group is pleased to announce the appointment of a new International Business Development Manager, Joe Solomon. Mr Solomon brings to Twin a wealth of industry expertise gained from many years of experience within the education management industry responding to the needs of international students. Before his appointment, Mr Solomon was responsible for business development and strategic planning for Kaplan International Colleges.
Espen Falkenhaug has been appointed the new Director General of Wyse Travel Confederation. A Norwegian national who has lived in Amsterdam for over 20 years, Mr Falkenhaug has worked both in the hospitality industry and, more recently, the IT sector. Within his new role Mr Falkenhaug will take Wyse into a new era, focusing on adding value to members and creating transparency throughout. He also plans to implement new IT platforms and develop the global market for Wyse.
First App Yap winner at Wystc
Tripwolf, an app offering city guides and maps, has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Wystc App Yap Contest to find the best travel app in the youth travel industry.
Around 4,000 votes were cast for the 40 apps that initially entered, creating a final shortlist of ten, which included applications offering phrasebooks, green tourism information and mobile insurance assistance. At the World Youth & Student Travel Conference (Wystc) 2011, held in Barcelona, Spain, the shortlisters made a five-minute “yap” (speech) to a panel of industry experts, who then determined the winner based on relevance, content, accessibility, design and the number of votes and downloads.
The Tripwolf app combines travel recommendations from famous travel guides with tips from users and is available for iPhone and Android in five different languages. As winners they received two free registrations for Wystc 2012 and UK£2,000 (US$3,130) of marketing services with Internet Advantage, Wystc’s marketing partner. Tripwolf’s PR & Social Media Specialist, Lea Hajner, said, “Winning this award means a lot to us at Tripwolf. We’ve been working very hard to constantly improve our app, add new features and we’re now at a stage where we’re able to offer labelling and co-branding solutions to our partners so winning this award really comes at a great time for us.”
Jacqueline Kassteen, Senior Marketing Executive at the Wyse Travel Confederation and member of the judging panel, said, “The launch of the first App Yap Contest is particularly significant because it marks a change in Wystc. We are beginning to infuse technology into this conference in a new way, showing the connection between youth travel and technology trends, which educates and empowers attendees.”
Admission portal for Chinese universities
Study Overseas China (Soc) has been launched by the Alltere Group as an online portal that acts as a single clearance system for partner universities in China.
Advisors will be able to register with Soc and then apply for a number of programmes on behalf of student clients. Soc offers Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral courses in numerous disciplines as well as Chinese Language and Culture programmes. A full package of services, including accommodation and pre-arrival tuition, can also be arranged via the system.
The Alltere Group specialises in higher education in China and has placed over 2,500 students from more than 40 different countries in its partner universities, which offer predominantly English-taught programmes.
London Nest launches accommodation service
London Nest has been established to help schools and advisors to provide independent accommodation in the city. The company is developing properties especially for the language travel market that will allow schools to offer private accommodation to meet student needs year-round, rather than on an ad hoc basis.
“Students are increasingly asking for student house shares and are moving away from the traditional option of homestays,” said London Nest Director, James Herbertson. “The key is to balance risk and match the property to what the school and their agents need. Taking on a house share all year round provides an opportunity to improve a school’s property portfolio and drive course sales,” he added. A website will be launched in January and advisors will also be able to contact London Nest directly with accommodation requests.
The English Studio, which has four schools across London, has been one of the first providers to be involved with the scheme, and Managing Director, Mairead Fanning, said, “Having our all year round 15-bedroom property, Raleigh House, has been a tremendous asset for our school. Far from being empty in the winter, it’s booked far in advance.”
Social network for English learners
The English Corner Online has been launched as a new social networking site designed for learners of English. The site will be free to use and allows English students to get in touch with other students from different countries. Using tools on the website, users can arrange times and dates to practise speaking English or collaborate on writing tasks.
In a statement, English Corner Online said, “We think it’s a great way to encourage students to meet new people who are also learning English, practise speaking and writing English outside the classroom, listen to people speaking English with different accents and have fun.”
This month, Carolyn Blackmore, Quality English Chief Executive, talks about recent activities and the challenges facing their member schools in the next 12 months.
Full name: Quality English
Year established: 2003
Number of members: 50
Type of members: Small to medium sized independent English language schools
Organisation’s main role: To promote the QE brand and to provide marketing services to the QE schools
Government recognition: Every school is accredited by the relevant (national) accreditation body
Code of practice: QE has a ‘client charter’
Complaints procedure: QE refers students and agents to the complaints procedures that are laid down by each individual school
Agent workshops: QE runs up to nine missions a year in specific markets for local agents
Innovation House, Mill Street, Oxford, OX2 0JX, E: firstname.lastname@example.org, W: www.quality-english.com
What has QE been up to in the last year?
QE offers a special selection of independent schools in all English-speaking countries; so our policy this year has been to concentrate on growing outside the UK with recent new QE schools in Dublin, Boston and Sydney. Continuing to grow QE brand awareness among agents less used to working with the UK has been facilitated by attendance at ICEF workshops in Canada and ANZA; and all the mainstream workshops have a QE presence as routine nowadays. We have run successful missions this year to Dubai, São Paulo, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Moscow, Paris, Madrid, Zurich, and Rome.
How have your QE missions developed recently?
More often than not we are now returning to mission destinations for the second and third time and we run up to nine a year. Next year our missions will be to Dubai, Beijing, Tokyo, Kiev, Istanbul, Hungary, Milan, Barcelona and San Sebastian. This is indicative of the popularity with both schools and agents for our bespoke events they are acclaimed because of the efficiency of the organisation and the opportunity to meet with agents who are really interested in QE schools.
What challenges could member schools face?
QE schools report that...in Canada the main challenge is the immigration policy where it isn’t straightforward for students to get visas to private schools. Students at language schools cannot work, making Canada an unrealistic option for those who need to subsidise their studies. In the USA the main challenges faced include the relative degree of difficulty in obtaining the US student visa in relation to other countries, as well as the physical distance to the USA from many markets. In New Zealand schools are unhappy about immigration policy settings which mean no work rights for student visa holders in English language schools and the fact that compliance costs continue to grow. In Australia the high dollar continues to have a negative effect. The government has made a vast number of changes to visa requirements and the maintenance of quality standards. Promoting these will be the next big challenge. In the UK the ongoing changes to government immigration policy and to the issuance of student visas is taking its toll on student numbers and is affecting strategic decision making. In Ireland schools mention the arrival of UK schools/chains because of the UKBA position. In South Africa, the international perception of crime is the first thing that comes to mind. We are always having to reassure clients that the news they hear is sensational and not the norm. And in Malta, concerns are the general economic situation and local competition.
• Emirates is boosting its connections to the USA with daily flights from Dubai to Dallas and Seattle. The service to Dallas-Forth Worth will commence from February 2012, while flights to Seattle-Tacoma International follow a month later. “These new services emphasise Emirates’ confidence in, and long-term commitment to, the United States,” said Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum. Emirates has also expressed an interest in future connections to Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington. Meanwhile, the airline has increased its service from Dubai to Tokyo Narita Airport from five times a week to a daily schedule.
• South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines has increased its frequency from Seoul Incheon to London Heathrow from five times a week to daily. The airline will be in direct competition with Korean Air, which also offers a daily connection between the two cities.
• In its latest industry trends report, the UK flight comparison website, cheapflights.co.uk, has revealed that Bodrum in Turkey is the most increased destination by search volume. The Rising Stars report compares searches in the first six months of this year to the same period in 2010 and lists the 25 top climbers. Bodrum came top with a staggering 971 per cent increase, while the Iraqi town of Erbil was a surprising second with a 504 per cent jump. The top five was completed by Kona, Hawaii, Hangzhou, China and Sapporo, Japan. “The trend shows that travel is still a priority even if budgets are tight. Continued economic slowdown has only served to create new destination trends with consumers literally willing to go the distance in places that will stretch their pounds,” said Nadine Hallak, Travel Expert for cheapflights.
• Low-cost carrier Norwegian has commenced a three times a week service between Manchester and Oslo Gardemoen, adding to its existing routes into Scandinavia from London and Edinburgh. A statement from Manchester Airport said the new route is “based around incredible interest in Norway for the big Premiership football teams in the north west; but it also represents an opportunity for business and leisure travellers alike to visit Oslo and other key points in the Norwegian domestic and Scandinavian network.”
• The travel industry appears to be moving towards wireless Internet provision onboard flights, with Etihad announcing that selected routes to Europe will soon be connected. Etihad CEO, James Hogan, confirmed that five aircraft will have operational onboard Internet by March 2012 and that the company is at the point of settling on a fleet-wide connectivity solution. He added that customer expectations would soon be for broadband access to be standard on all flights. Meanwhile, Eurostar will be offering Internet access when it launches its new and refurbished stock in 2013. The European high speed rail operator has signed a contract with Nomad Digital Ltd which will ensure “a high speed connection to the Internet at all times throughout the journey, a seamless switchover at international borders and connectivity wherever the customer is seated and whenever it is required”, said Eurostar in a statement.
• China Southern Airlines has expanded its connections with Australia. A new three times a week route from Perth to Guangzhou has commenced, a service which has made China Southern only the second carrier to offer first class seats out of Western Australia’s capital. The Guangzhou-Melbourne connection has been doubled to twice daily to meet the winter demand, and the Brisbane service has increased to four times a week. Additionally, a direct route is now available between Brisbane Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport. “The addition of Beijing to the network will better service the needs of the business communities in both Brisbane and Beijing,” said Edward Wang, China Southern General Manager, Queensland.
• New and increased connections for Germany have been announced. Lufthansa will fly from Munich to Mexico City five times per week from March, becoming the first non-stop service to Central America from Munich. Meanwhile, United Airlines has scheduled to add a second daily flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to Frankfurt from January 2012. Behind the UK, Germany is the USA’s second largest European market.
Please see the digital issue of Study Travel Magazine for the Grapevine section