Shaping the future
Music on vinyl and good old-fashioned soap; two examples of products that are obsolete in Britain, we are told, as more modern options of CDs, downloadable music and shower gel take over. Similarly, travel products evolve, with e-vouchers replacing airline tickets and the Internet replacing the local agent selling and organising flights for the everyman.
As consumers, we evolve, but our needs remain constant, albeit with an increasingly technological bent. The desire to travel and see the world is, if anything, increasing, fuelled by the low-cost Internet-friendly carriers offering to open our eyes to a new culture for the price of a bar of soap (how much again?). The phenomenon of cheap travel is set to reach new world regions, with Saudi Arabia gearing up for the first low-cost carrier in the country, while Air Berlin in Germany goes from strength to strength (page 8).
Reading our UK Agency Survey this month, it is striking that the overall volume in this market, given the similar sample of agencies taking part in the survey five years ago, has grown significantly in that time, and opinion indicates that it will continue to grow (pages 14-15). It is useful to compare decade on decade trends as much as to compare year on year trends sometimes for this reason.
In the USA, serious efforts at national level to encourage study abroad are underway, and, if successful, then thanks to government funding, the USA may be as buoyant a market as the UK, although the USA mainly has its sights on undergraduate exchange (page 6).
How else is the travel industry evolving? As well as overall passenger traffic up (page 8), within our industry, there is a definite shift towards academically-motivated study, particularly into English speaking destinations. Agents relate that language programmes with an intrinsic activity component, while interesting, do not sell so well (pages 26-30), while high schools in Canada are happy to point out that their overseas intake is rising, largely due to students wanting assured entry into further education (page 35). In the UK, Study Group have announced a collaboration with a university to provide a dedicated study centre and foundation programmes, and suggest more agreements of this type are on the agenda (page 7).
The need for education remains integral, but the process of how and where it is delivered is changing radically, and students'; horizons are broadening, as professionals such as yourselves help shape the future.